Downham Shed lockdown diary

16 June 2020

For the last few months, social interaction has been limited for us all, partaking in conversations and meeting people have been very limited.

As someone who is used to chatting I know that this new norm is not good for my Well Being.  My physical health has also been impacted as I have not been able to deliver the walking football session.   

Mentally I am really nervous about what the short and long-term impact of the lockdown will be on the Downham Community, especially for the men. The Blue Ribbon Foundation will be trying to build a virtual community to try and help. Going forward there will be a greater need for programmes that support and engage us.

Before the pandemic, male mental health had become a key concern for professionals, policy makers and younger members of the Royal Family. Men are much less likely to diagnosed and treated for mental health problems, yet 75% of suicides are male. one in four women get treated for depression whilst only one in ten men get help. Our goal is to create a place where men feel at home and can follow a variety of practical interests.     

Since May, a handful of Downham men have been meeting at Goldsmiths Community Centre to try and clear the gardens and a space within the centre for a ‘Shed’ type project. Before we could safely work within the space we produced a risk assessment. This was really important in trying not to spread COVID-19, but meant that the sessions were restricted to a team small enough for social distancing to happen.

For the first couple of weeks we met on a Monday & Friday, and going forward we hope to continue this rota.    

The first task we focussed on was the clearing of the garden spaces, making sure that we put the results of our clear up into plies so that the clear up as environmental as possible. We were trying to ensuring that anything that could be reused, recycled or is compostable wouldn’t end up in landfill.

It took a couple of sessions before we could empty out the ‘Shed’. Clearing the garden allowed us together to have a conversation about the space and importantly how to use it. Currently the space has no electricity, no heat and some novel walls. Good questions were raised. How to deliver it? what would go in it? how long before we grew out of it?  Who it would be for? How to make it inclusive? How quickly we could increase the sessions? Where we could get the funding from? Who would deliver the internal works?  What time scale were we looking at? 

We started to clear the overgrown allotment site, which hopefully can be reinstated and used to provide fresh vegetables for the Apple café and public areas. We tidied up the public areas, removing weeds and rubbish. The clear-age resulted in filling three skips but the grounds are now starting to show the benefits of our work.  

There are so many possible opportunities where the skills of the community can be used in a positive way. There is play equipment, and toys, that requires love and care to restore them so children can enjoy them, there is an overgrown forest school that could be reimagine.

If you want to join with us, please contact – Trevor Pybus
Email: trevor.pybus@Blueribbonfoundation.org.uk
Downham Men’s Group Mobile: 07821 292317