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Hinkley Point C Community Fund tackles loneliness in Somerset

Since its launch in November 2017 the HPC Community Fund has been supporting community projects and initiatives that help mitigate the impacts and increase the opportunities arising from the construction of the new power station. Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge Men’s Shed (BOSHed) was one of the first community groups to receive a grant from the Hinkley Point C (HPC) Community Fund’s Small Grants programme, administered by Somerset Community Foundation (SCF), two years ago.

The number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6, compared to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49% increase in 10 years [source: Age UK 2018, All The Lonely People]. Loneliness can have a profound effect on the health and well-being of older people in the UK and Somerset is no exception.

Retirement can often bring about a lack of purpose, with the loss of routine and companionship leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Men’s Sheds provide community spaces for men – and women – to connect, converse and create, filling that void and re-establishing a sense of community that older or retired people can experience.

Tony Cradock from BOSHed said: “The funding from the HPC Community Fund was used to provide decking and a panel saw for our Men’s Shed. This meant that we were more accessible and able to develop what we do. In the last two years the Shed has gone from strength to strength, and together we find friendship, as well as having a good time!”

BOSHed has recently opened a new ‘wing’ – the Women’s SHEd – and the group meet at the premises every Monday. Sue Meads from the Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge Women’s SHEd said: “Our group started up gradually about 18 months ago, and we now have a regular number of women coming along to the SHEd, which is held every Monday. We have a woodworking group where we make everything from bird boxes to double beds, and a crafting group where the women enjoy a number of crafts, including patchwork, crochet and jewellery making.

“The SHEd helped me through a really tough period in my life. It’s a very supportive and welcoming environment – you can take part in the activities or simply sit and have a coffee and a chat. We’re always looking for new members, so please do come along and give it a try if you’re in the area.”

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