Dover Kent Shed project is whatever floats your boat

Contributed by editor on Feb 07, 2017 - 12:15 PM

Kent residents are being encouraged to take up funding for new Kent Sheds projects, tackling mental health and wellbeing by encouraging people to make friends, share skills and support their local community through shed-based venues.



Carmen Sturdy and Tracy Sutton from Folkestone have been attending the Hawkinge Shed since last summer


The Kent Sheds project started in 2014, jointly funded by Libor, building on the success of the international Men’s Sheds movement, in a bid to tackle issues such as loneliness, social isolation and mental health problems.

Almost 30 sheds in Kent have so far received Kent County Council support to develop their projects in a range of locations including boats, lakes, shopping centres and community venues.




Each Shed is unique to reflect local interest and skills of those attending. Very few are actual ‘sheds’, most have fun and engaging themes and venues such as fishing lakes and allotments.


Dover Shed which is actually a boat


One example is the Dover Shed which is actually a boat. Terry Dickson from the Dover group said: “We have a huge variety of people coming along, male and female, all sorts of ages and not just the older types. It’s about extending your network of friends and a friend can be from any background. It’s very much a group based activity and many enjoy being back in a team.”

KCC is keen for more innovative and sustainable ideas. Extra funding of up to around £2,500 per shed is available for future projects which is a one off contribution to help them set up. Many sheds only need a small amount of about £500 and a passionate group of volunteers to get their projects started.

Men’s Sheds


The Men’s Sheds movement started in Australia – initially aimed at recently retired men. Kent Sheds are for men of all ages and women, with ex-service people particularly welcome.

Danielle Shepherd joined Communigrow, a shed group in Ditton, after suffering depression and anxiety. As an occupational therapist, she knew ‘green therapy’ could help her: “It’s great for fresh air, physical exercise, a sense of purpose, being in tune with nature’s rhythm and being part of a social group has supported my mental health.




"Kent Sheds offer diverse opportunities for free; sharing and developing skills and knowledge, reducing social isolation, improving physical and mental wellbeing.”

Meanwhile Carmen Sturdy and Tracy Sutton from Folkestone have been attending the Hawkinge Shed since last summer. Carmen said: “I moved to Kent early last year so we could be together as a couple but it meant we had little money or friends and were hoping for a fresh start.


"We felt that voluntary work would be a good way to make new friends and feel part of our new community. We heard about the Kent Sheds and to our joy, we found that not only could we join but that we would not be the only lady members.”

She added: “We have been involved with painting and decorating a shed to make a quiet space where people can write and chill out. Others are involved with building and gardening. It’s a real range of activities and we have made loads of new friends. It’s a close family unit and we’re not judged, everyone is equal and treated exactly the same”.

Tim Tempest from the Sherwood Shed in Tunbridge Wells said: “As a group we are actively engaged in producing planters, wild life pens and other items for the local community at the same time as achieving that all important goal of helping those who are seeking help in dealing with a wide variety of personal problems and assisting them feel a sense of achievement and thus boost their own self-esteem.”


Deeply rewarding


The 68-year-old added: “I have to say I find being involved with the shed is deeply rewarding – getting recognition for what we do from the shedders who we involve in the projects. They keep coming back and we would love to be able to help more of them.”

KCC Director Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “We are keen for people to get involved who may be at greater risk of isolation and benefit from the ‘shoulder to shoulder’ style of the Kent Sheds. Some of the projects have taken on a community action focus and carry out jobs to improve the local area or support vulnerable residents such as clean-up projects and gardening work for elderly residents.”

For more information about Kent Sheds, go to  and for funding details go to

See the Dover Shedders in action HERE


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