20th Jul, 2019

Shed heaven as Big Lottery Fund steps in to save vital community project

Ross Crawford 14th Jul, 2018

A REDDITCH man’s dream of getting a ‘Community Sheds’ scheme up and running and with a promising future has come true – thanks to a Big Lottery Fund grant.

Rolly Duke has been the driving force behind the Sheds scheme since it was launched in Redditch in 2015 with the backing of Age UK.

But when the charity pulled the plug on the project in Redditch to put all their resources into Bromsgrove instead, it left the likes of Roly high and dry.

“When Age UK Bromsgrove, Redditch & Wyre Forest dropped us back in September I decided to go it alone,” said the 70-year-old father of three and grandfather of five.

“Since then it’s been an uphill struggle just trying to get charity status and a bank account – you can’t get one without the other.”

Help came from Brenda Killigrew at the Old Needle Works in Britten Street who offered the Sheds team a unit, shared with NHS New Opportunities, with the rent covered by Rolly doing maintenance at the Works,

All that has changed now with the Big Lottery Fund stepping in with a £10,000 grant – small beer compared to some of the six figure sums it offers – but an absolute lifeline for Rolly and his dedicated team.

“It means everything to us,” said the former firefighter.

“It gives us a year to build things up, a bit of breathing space to get everything on a firm footing.”

Ideas in the pipeline include home maintenance workshops for young couples, basic DIY for men and women as well as crafting things for sale.

“Sheds is a great scheme – it gets people out of the house, gives them a purpose and it’s a good social as well. Everyone is over the Moon with the award,” said Rolly.

‘Men in Sheds’ grew out of Australia where it was recognised that senior citizens with invaluable skills were not putting them to use or passing them on to the younger generation.

In the UK the scheme evolved into Community Sheds where both men and women could work together and enjoy a bit of banter.

James Harcourt of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “It will be wonderful to see the positive impact Redditch Community Sheds have for men and women locally.

“They are an inspiration to others, showing what great things can be achieved when people work together to tackle the things that really matter to their community.”

Redditch Community Sheds meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Old Needle Works from 10am.

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