Men in Sheds group saved me from despair

  |  Published: Aug 26th 2015
Men in Sheds, Aylesbury: Chris Wheatley, Glynn Pearson and Adrian Shepherd
Men in Sheds, Aylesbury: Chris Wheatley, Glynn Pearson and Adrian Shepherd

 

A former lorry driver forced to give up his job due to a back injury has told how Aylesbury’s Men in Sheds group proved a ‘life-saver’ after a decade of being unemployed.

Glynn Fox-Pearson says the scheme – which brings like-minded men together to enjoy practical activities such as woodworking - rescued his self-esteem after years of fruitless job searches.

“Men in Sheds is literally a lifeline for me,” said Glynn, a 51-year-old married father-of-two. “Without it, I’d be sitting at home staring at the TV screen. I have been going for jobs over the years, but once they hear you have spinal injuries, they avoid you like the plague.”

The project was set up in November 2012 by Community Impact Bucks with funding and support from Buckinghamshire County Council’s Local Area Forum. The aim from the outset was for the group to become a stand-alone organisation, which it has achieved. The Men in Sheds group covers its running costs through selling the products it makes, bespoke commissions and membership fees. It has also received several grants from various local and national organisations.

Glynn, who lives in Aylesbury, picked up his injury when he was 42 after jarring his back at work. Initially, it appeared he was suffering from a pulled muscle, until it was diagnosed three discs in his spinal column had ‘folded in on themselves’.

He was signed off as ‘medically retired’ due to the nature of his job as an HGV driver, but he was determined to find other work.

“I couldn’t find a job and spent time going in and out of back-to-work programmes. You just go further and further down to the bottom and lose your sense of self-worth,” he said.

“You go practically begging for work and still get turned down. You end up sitting on the sofa looking at the square box, not being able to tell anybody what you have just watched.”

But Glynn’s life took a turn for the better 18 months ago when he was invited to have a cup of tea with the Men in Sheds team at the project’s base in Rabans Close, Aylesbury.

“I’m a lover of woodcraft, so as soon as I saw the lads working with wood, I felt at home.”

He now attends about three days a week, making a variety of things – including the shelving in the Men in Sheds’ unit itself, bird boxes and merchandise that can be sold on the monthly market run by the group.

“This is literally everything to me,” he added. “You have a reason for getting out of bed in the morning. On top of that, you produce something for people to look at and it’s lovely. I think Men in Sheds is brilliant for people like me.”

Men in Sheds Aylesbury, which has around 43 members, started in November 2012 but recently made the news when the Aylesbury members helped launch a new group in Amersham

Adrian Shepherd, 45, Aylesbury chairman, explained that members came to the group for a range of reasons, such as unemployment, illness, retirement, bereavement or depression.

“A lot of people have ended up down-trodden at the way the world has dished them up their portion of their pie,” he said. “This brings them back their self-worth through woodworking, metalworking, computing and generally getting involved. They forge lifelong friendships.”

Adrian, a father of two, had a career in electronics but was unable to continue due to back and mobility problems and describes himself as a ‘classic example’ of a member.

“We have heard heart-breaking stories, so we are the light at the end of tunnel for some people,” he said. “We build people’s confidence back up and let them flourish – and it’s amazing what comes out of the other side of them as a result.”

Martin Phillips, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: “The Men in Sheds project has proved a magnificent success and the Council is delighted to be involved with it.”

For further information about Men in Sheds in the county, please call 01844 348831 or email Samantha@communityimpactbucks.org.uk

For further information about Men in Sheds in Aylesbury, call 01296 709 256 or email misa.shed@gmail.com

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