Kent Sheds Programme Seeks New Health Champions

Date added: 19 November 2020

The Step by Step Kent Sheds programme is celebrating International Men’s Day (19 Nov) by offering men the opportunity to train as Health Champions.

Set up to combat loneliness, social isolation and mental health problems, Kent Sheds has now expanded to include physical health promotion.

There are currently 31 groups across the county which are always encouraging new members to join and are now also seeking Champions who can have informal ‘healthy conversations’ with other members of their group before signposting them to the resources they need to get the right support.

The free online training sessions include the basics of men’s health and what the role will be as the group’s health champion, focussing on the art of active listening, how to ask open questions and give the right support and information.

Bill Stewart, Men’s Health Champion from Staplehurst Shed said: “The course has helped me focus more fully in engaging with the guys, not just about the medical conditions which are part of getting older, but also their concerns with combatting loneliness, separation from loved ones and looking after themselves properly.”

Once Champions have had the training, they will get a free manual providing helpful tips from the training and further information on men’s health issues along with national and local service information. They can also join the Health Champion Network and get advice and support.

Debbie Tyler from Activmob which runs the Kent Sheds project for KCC said: “The second national lockdown has been difficult and frustrating for Kent Shedders as they had to close after all their hard work to become Covid safe but we have supported them in starting weekly virtual calls, to keep the connections going.

“By keeping the Sheds running in whatever way we can, there is still a place for people to meet – albeit online - and tackle issues of isolation and loneliness so we’d still encourage people to join their local shed and maybe they can also become a Men’s Health Champion for their local community.”  

The Men’s Sheds movement started in Australia – initially aimed at recently retired men. Kent Sheds are for men of all ages and women, with ex-service people particularly welcome. The Kent Sheds project started in 2014, jointly funded by Libor, building on the success of the international Men’s Sheds movement, in a bid to tackle issues such as loneliness, social isolation and mental health problems.

Now part of EU SBS Sheds, the project is a collaborative, innovative partnership of different organisations from UK, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Kent County Council (KCC) receives EU funding as part of the SBS Sheds project and commissions ActivMob to help create new sheds and develop existing mobs.

Each Shed is unique to reflect local interest and skills of those attending. Very few are actual ‘sheds’ and most – during normal circumstances – have fun and engaging themes and venues such as fishing lakes, boats and allotments.

For more information and to become a Kent Sheds member or Champion, go to Kent Sheds webpage

You can find more information about the SBS project here