The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for Community and Social Care at the Department of Health visited Havant Men's Shed on the evening of 9th June 2016. Mr Burt was formally invited by Alan Mak Havant MP who raised the issue of "Innovative approaches that improve physical and mental health" in Prime Minister's Question Time recently. Mr Mak and County Councillor Liz Fairhurst - Executive Member for Adult Social Care at HCC accompanied the Minster to see the work of members and to recognise the growth of the Men’s Shed movement across the country and its contribution to promoting health and wellbeing.
The origins of Havant Men's shed were brought about as a result of Havant & East Hants Mind identifying a significant number of men involved in suicide or self neglect, often following bereavement or after retirement. Julie Parker, the CEO of HEH Mind, explained to the Minister “Many of the men attending our shed would not engage with traditional services, but here they work on small projects supporting other charities, local people and schools shoulder to shoulder. Eventually new relationships are formed and people share and care for each other”. Mr Burt said that he felt a real sense of “warmth and togetherness”, as members of the shed recounted how those organising and undertaking work at the shed felt a renewed sense of purpose and identity; some explaining how the company and the group has helped them feel less isolated. Other members explained how they care for loved ones at home and need a bit of respite time with other guys, so they can continue to care once refreshed. In some cases experienced and older members share their skills with others and help some of younger men get back into work or help school leavers.
All the visitors were particularly interested to hear how the shed is largely self sustaining, after Havant and East Hants Mind’s initial request to Hampshire Public Health which kick- started the project, the shed has gone from strength to strength. All the tools were donated by local people; much of the wood and materials is donated by local business.