Littlehampton East Men in Sheds needs a new home

James Spanner, chairman of Littlehampton East Men in Sheds, right, and Brian Greaves, secretary, front left, with members. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks190167-2
James Spanner, chairman of Littlehampton East Men in Sheds, right, and Brian Greaves, secretary, front left, with members. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks190167-2

Littlehampton East Men in Sheds is in need of new premises in order to continue its valuable community work.

The group, known as LEMinS, currently has free use of a garage at the Coastal West Sussex Mind premises in Maltravers Drive, Littlehampton, but plans by the mental health charity to expand its work mean the men will have to move out.

Brian Greaves, secretary, said: “We are a men’s shed group with approximately 14 members who meet three days a week, producing various items made from wood for the local community, for charity, to sell to help with the funds and for our own pleasure.

“For the last three years, we have been very fortunate in having the free use of the garage attached to the Coastal West Sussex Mind building. It was a workshop before we took it over and had a lot of tools, which set us up to start with. It’s a bit on the small side for our use but we have come to call it home.

“We have built up quite a big following within the local community and it is a very important venue for the members of the shed, who are all well into retirement age and rely on friendship and comradeship and the sense of worth that the shed environment brings.

“We also have a few people with mental health and medical issues who have been made very welcome and rely on our shed, if for nothing else than to give their carers a break.”

Members were very sad to learn expansion plans would mean Coastal West Sussex Mind would require the garage back.

James Spanner, chairman, said: “That was the first warning we had that we needed to start looking, and then the incompatibility of our noise and Mind’s need for quiet meant they needed to shorten the deadline.

“We have outgrown the premises and if we get new premises – and it’s looking hopeful – I think we may look back and see it as a blessing in disguise, and a timely one for everybody.

“Both Mind and the shed are important community resources and without Mind’s hospitality, we would have never got up and running.”

At first, the men were told they had until the end of the year but then the issue of disturbance was raised and the deadline was reduced to two months.

Mr Greaves said: “We have been made aware recently that the inevitable disturbance we create is unhelpful to both Mind’s work with their clients and the concentration of their own office staff. We are upset obviously that we have been unaware of this.

“So, there is disappointment and frustration all round, though both Mind and the men’s shed are doing vital community work. We have now been informed that we have only two months to leave our shed.

“Ideally, we would be looking for any building within the Littlehampton area we could use instead. We would be simply looking for a lockable space the size of a double garage or larger with electricity available. It would be such a shame if the shed had to close.

“We are all retired and of course have varying degrees of medical issues but that said, when we are in the shed, we are all treated equally and with respect and feel wanted. I’m sure a lot less time is spent in the doctors’ waiting room because of the availability of the shed to its members.

“I for one am not ready to spend all day watching television, or sit on a town bench talking to seagulls.”

Shed members meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 1pm.

Kerrin Page, deputy chief executive of Coastal West Sussex Mind, said: “We’ve been in discussions with the chair of Men in Sheds about them finding new premises as it was not sustainable in the building.

“We have really valued working in partnership with them as they do great work supporting people and if we can help them in any way, we will. We hope they will find another base soon.”