Port Men in Sheds in Ellesmere Port on the Wirral has been funded and run by Age UK for around 10 years, until August 2021, when all funding for the Shed was unfortunately stopped. Following this announcement in 2020, the Shed members had a difficult decision to make about whether the Shed might be able to continue to run without Age UK.
In June 2020, in preparation for the end of the collaboration with Age UK, the first new committee member Zoom meeting took place, after the group had decided that the Shed would apply for a new charity status to replace the Age UK run project. This charity status was granted on the 1st September 2020 after lots of hard work by the committee members.
After Age UK funding ceased at the end of August, The Port Men in Sheds proudly opened their doors on 1stSeptember 2021 as an independent charity, now run by its members with Mike Doherty, the former paid staff member from Age UK, supporting the project as a volunteer and trustee.
The Shed is well equipped and is located in a large industrial unit with high rent and running costs. Even with the fees paid by the many Shed members and the money brought in by selling Shed made products, it was worked out that the monthly running costs would not be met. The Shed had reserves to keep running for a period of time but the members had resigned themselves to looking for a smaller, cheaper workspace come 2022.
Recently though, the Port Men in Sheds have had some good news thanks again to the hard work of Mike and the committee members.
In August 2021 Mike made contact with Stanlaw Abbey Development Trust and introduced the Shed as a new charity and service. Following this introduction, the trust sent two representatives to visit the Shed several times and to interview Mike at length. Mike was quizzed about all things Shed, with the topics of most interest being the range of services the Shed offered, how these services support local men, the building lease and the governance of the Shed.
Mike was then asked what the trust could do to support the Shed. And in Mike’s words, “I asked for a lot!”
The representatives agreed to progress the Shed’s case with their trustees, who then arranged a trustee visit to the Shed to see the services on offer and meet some of the members.
A final meeting then took place where the great news was given that the trust was willing to offer funding which would guarantee the Shed’s costly lease and other costs until 2023! Mike recently appeared on BBC Radio Merseyside to talk about the Shed’s success.
The Shed offers a wide range of practical activities including woodworking, IT, a games room, music sessions and a gym area, all at the facility in Ellesmere Port. The Shed supports its community by completing projects for local schools, hospitals, care homes and other organisations. Some men just attend the Shed for a coffee, bacon butty and a chat. As one of their members said “The banter in the Shed is absolutely brilliant, especially when we go down for a tea break. Everybody’s having a good laugh and a joke”
The Shed is open five days a week and anyone over the age of 18 is welcome. As their website states “The idea of the Shed is to bring men from all walks of life together, in the hope of giving them a new lease of life.”