Pioneering new scheme supporting men is launched

David Turnbull, health development facilitator, Northumberland County Council; Dr Robin Toop, chair of Newbiggin Relief in Sickness; Coun Liz Simpson; Diane Toop, Secretary of Newbiggin Relief in Sickness; and Gareth Baister, Centre Manager.
David Turnbull, health development facilitator, Northumberland County Council; Dr Robin Toop, chair of Newbiggin Relief in Sickness; Coun Liz Simpson; Diane Toop, Secretary of Newbiggin Relief in Sickness; and Gareth Baister, Centre Manager.

A pioneering scheme to cut isolation and improve men’s health in Newbiggin is underway.

The Newbiggin Men in Sheds Project is a partnership between Northumberland County Council and a host of partner organisations.

The initiative, which has just had a £10,000 donation from the Newbiggin Relief in Sickness charity, will look at social inclusion and look to connect older men, create new friendships and keep them active.

It will be based in Newbiggin Sports and Leisure Centre and the first stage includes a range of taster activities to actively recruit men into the project.

Similar projects have been used around the country to provide an array of benefits for older men including knowledge sharing, community engagement, personal achievement and the opportunity to meet and interact with others.

Coun Liz Simpson said: “We are delighted to receive this donation which will enable this much needed project to happen in our town.

“Unfortunately social isolation is one of society’s most relevant issues for those who are single or widowed, particularly men who have retired or been made redundant.

“I’ve been working for years to get this project started and our first steps, now we have a permanent base, is to find out what users want – this is their chance to decide what activities they want to happen.

Newbiggin Relief in Sickness chair Dr Robin Toop, who made the donation, said: “As I retired GP I know the debilitating effects of social isolation and we were very pleased to be able to support a scheme that offers something for local men, particularly the elderly, and improves their health and wellbeing.”

Shed activities take place in many forms such as joinery, gardening, electronics, genealogy, restoration and renovation.

For those interested in the project email david.turnbull@northumberland.gov.uk