A social group in Pontypridd is working to combat loneliness during the COVID-19 outbreak by moving its presence online.
The Dewi Sant Men’s Shed, which was launched last year at Dewi Sant Health Park in Pontypridd is now operating on facebook, helping members to keep in touch at a time when many people feel lonely and isolated.
Men’s Sheds’ are social groups set up in local communities for the benefit of people in the area. The Dewi Sant Men’s Shed is a new group, set up in September 2019 and was the initiative of the Taff Ely Primary Care Cluster and in partnership with Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board.
The idea was to establish the community group as a way to promote good physical and mental health.
Since its launch, the group has grown in membership and members have developed an action plan to provide activities such as gardening, walking rugby and armchair netball.
However, since the COVID outbreak activities have obviously come to a halt. Now the group are working to create a digital presence, using a facebook group to enable members to communicate and offer support if needed.
Paul Nagle, Shed Development Officer said: “Maintaining communication between our members is really important at this time when a lot of people might be experiencing loneliness. The detrimental effects of loneliness and social isolation have been likened to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, so it really is a major impact on a person’s health. Setting up an online presence thereby ensures that our group remains together, ready to meet again once the current health situation is resolved.”
Members use the group to post videos activities such as gardening and share useful information.
Dewi Sant Men's Shed secretary Dave Edwards said: "Because of the coronavirus outbreak we cannot hold our weekly meetings. However it is important that we all regularly keep in contact and Facebook enables us to do that. It gives members up to date info on what is happening and also the activities available while self-isolating."
The idea for Men’s Sheds’ originated in Australia 11 years ago and was developed by a health board to tackle growing concerns of social isolation amongst their male population in particular. They identified that high numbers of men had time on their hands, due to retirement, unemployment or illness and this often manifested in boredom, men suffering in silence with declining mental health and in the worst cases suicide.
Members of each individual shed decide activities that take place according to the skills and interests of the group. Activities might include art, amateur radio, model making or DIY.
Despite its name, the Men’s Shed at Dewi Sant is open to anyone, male or female, over the age of 18.
The group is continuing to take on new members at this time. To find out more search join the ‘Dewi Sant Men’s Shed’ group.