Beer Men's Shed receives £10,000 lottery funding

Councillor Geoff Pook, East Devon Cllr for Beer & Branscombe cuts the ribbon to officially open the

Councillor Geoff Pook, East Devon Cllr for Beer & Branscombe cuts the ribbon to officially open the Beer Men's Shed with L-R Cllr Susie Bond, Cllr Ben Ingham & Chris Pickles.Picture: Guy Newman - Credit: © Guy Newman

An East Devon project tackling a problem faced by many men, in quite a unique way, has received a £10,000 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund. 

Beer Men’s Shed, located in Beer, East Devon, is providing a place for an often-forgotten section of the community to connect. 

Chris Pickles, Chairman of the Beer Men’s Shed, said: “I moved here when I retired and quickly realised after chatting with my neighbours that there were lots of residents of Beer and the surrounding area who were feeling very isolated. 

“Many of them were living alone or retired and spending lots of the day by themselves, with all the skills they had honed over their life going to waste.” 

Chris, along with four others, decided to try and combat this problem by setting up workshops and drop-in sessions in their own garages where men could get together, work on projects and make friends. 

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It was a huge success and soon they were able to open a purpose build workshop. 

It was up and running in late 2019 and word was beginning to spread to neighbouring towns and villages. Then COVID-19 hit. 

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“In March when we had to stop, it was very painful for many of the men who come along. The sessions really do mean a lot to people” said Chris. 

“One guy said to me ‘today’s been a great day, I had a walk along the cliffs’; a year ago, he could barely bring himself to get out of his armchair. 

“When it was allowed, we started doing socially distanced sessions in our workshop, but that meant we couldn’t operate at capacity. It didn’t feel right leaving some people out.” 

Now, thanks to National Lottery funding the Beer Men’s Shed will open a second workshop to help them with demand for their project. 

New figures released this week reveal that nearly £1.5 million has gone to community groups across Devon this year, thanks to National Lottery players.  

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, vital National Lottery funding has enabled inspiring local good causes to carry on their amazing work and bring glimmers of hope to their communities.  

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