For generations men have whiled away the hours in their garden sheds.
Now a new project is about to launch in Hartlepool where fellas can come together to learn new skills and chew the fat.
The Hartlepool Men’s Shed, in Osborne Road, is due to open by the end of the month after several months of work to find a suitable base and secure funding.
Project leaders say it will be the first of its kind in town and as well as being a place where men can do woodwork it will be somewhere for men to make new friends.
The project took off after Hartlepool Voluntary Development Association (HVDA) organised a meeting in September 2014 to gauge interest after being approached with the idea from one town resident.
Volunteers have raised over £14,000 in grants and contributions from the National Lottery, various charitable trusts and ward councillors plus materials donated by building merchants MKM.
It is going to fill a need and a gap and I’m excited by what we can achieveNorman Bell, chairman of Hartlepool Men’s Shed
Former HVDA employee Peter Gowland, who has continued to help set the group up, said: “By the end of 2015 we had got all the things together including a management board.
“We had quite a strict set of parameters that we needed and this building has been a godsend.
“We are hoping to be open by the end of the month. It is not just about learning to saw or knock up a garden bench, it is about reducing social isolation.
“They might have lost their partner, be unemployed or just want somewhere to go. The majority of the guys are retired engineers or plumbers who are going to be imparting their skills to others as well as building their own projects.”
The group will also welcome various health visitors to promote good mental and physical health.
There are around 90 similar Men’s Sheds groups all over the country.
Norman Bell, chairman of the Hartlepool Men’s Shed, said: “I think it’s great. There’s nothing like this in the town. It is going to fill a need and a gap and I’m excited by what we can achieve.
“It is about the interaction and comradeship.”
The shed will be open to any man aged over 18 and there will be a small fee of about £1 plus a £10 annual membership.
It is appealing for donations of any unwanted hand tools.
If you can help or for more information call 07593 1700009.