Rishi Sunak praises Men’s Shed project for tackling social isolation

Rishi Sunak has praised a project which provides companionship for men who may be facing social isolation.

During a visit to Northallerton Men’s Shed, he commended the scheme which was set up in the town five years ago and now has about 80 members.

The ‘Shedders’, as the project members are known, take part in a variety of projects, mostly woodworking but also computers, electronics and crafts four days a week.

Mr Sunak, MP for Richmond, toured the workshop and meeting room, talking to members about the various projects there were working on. He tried his hand on one of the lathes, putting the finishing touches to a wooden bowl.

The bowl, made by member David Ward, was later presented to him to mark the occasion.

Northallerton Men’s Shed chair David Puttock explained to Mr Sunak how the Shed was first established in a building on the former Allertonshire School site in 2019 but had to re-locate when the school site was redeveloped as the home of the town’s secondary school and sixth form college.

A new shed was established in a former cow byre at Northallerton Auction Mart with the members carrying out nearly all the conversion and fitting out work.

The Shed is now fully operational and attracting members. Although primarily aimed at supporting men, women members are also involved, enjoying regular Friday sessions at the Shed.

Mr Sunak said: “This is a wonderful project, helping to combat social isolation by providing a very welcome opportunity for men, and women, to come together, to make new friends and to develop new skills in a warm and supportive environment.”

Chris Riley, secretary of Northallerton Men’s Shed, said Mr Sunak’s visit had been welcomed by members, He added: “We welcomed having the opportunity to show our MP and Prime Minister that the Shed is making a very important and positive difference to the lives of our members.”

The Men’s Shed concept originated in Australia but has spread across the world. There are hundreds of Men’s Sheds around the UK.