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Condemned squash court in Alcester will become creative hub





A CONDEMNED squash court building in Alcester is being transformed into a creative hub thanks to a new £100,000 project headed by the town council.

An ambitious plan to transform the redundant site into a centre that supports men’s health will come to fruition next spring with the launch of the Alcester Community Shed.

The initiative is modelling itself on the Men’s Shed movement which seeks to create a dedicated space where chaps can come together to form friendships and reduce social isolation whilst getting hands-on and pursue practical skills like making and mending.

Cllr Mark Cargill, front, with Paul Twentyman, David Turner, Bob Barnfield, Andrew Jackson, Glen Atkinson, Wendy Sherwood and Cllr Kathryn Cargill. Photo: Iain Duck
Cllr Mark Cargill, front, with Paul Twentyman, David Turner, Bob Barnfield, Andrew Jackson, Glen Atkinson, Wendy Sherwood and Cllr Kathryn Cargill. Photo: Iain Duck

The project is being led by Cllr Mark Cargill, the chair of the town council Health and Wellbeing Partnership.

“The goal is to encourage men who have had an active working life and who are now retired and at a loose end to come together for mutual companionship.

“Men are not terribly good at discussing health issues, so this will also be a safe space where they can talk and be sign-posted to appropriate support,” he said. “It’s also a place to have fun and make stuff. I think they are a brilliant idea.”

The old squash court building was inherited by the town council when they took over the Greig Hall site with a 125-year lease from Stratford District Council. Neither the sports centre nor the Greig Hall trustees wanted to use the building which needs extensive repairs.

After a survey in August the plan is to give the early 1970’s construction a new roof, electrics, ventilation and heating.

Two workshop areas - a multipurpose space and a workshop fitted out with machine tools will be created alongside a accessible entrance and toilet, kitchen and storage facilities.

It will then be handed over to the a new ‘shedders’ group to kit out with tools and equipment.

Although the group will join the UK’s Men’s Shed Association, Cllr Cargill was keen to point out that it will be an inclusive space – welcoming both men and women - and a permanent home for the monthly repair café. It is hoped other groups will start up too.

He said: “It’s open to all but will have an emphasis on men’s physical and mental health,” and added, “I’ve been quite humbled by the support I’ve been getting on this - it’s been amazing.”

“We are well on the way to securing this money and hope to achieve the target in the not-too-distant future.”

The council has so far received a £25,000 Levelling Up grant from Stratford District Council, plus donations from the Church Street Property charitable trust and an anonymous donor.

The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia about 30 years ago and there are now approximately 800 sheds across the UK.



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