On board with helping Basingstoke residents tackle social isolation

A project aimed at connecting people through a community bus is revved up and ready to start thanks to more than £18,000 of Hampshire County Council funding

Oct 2 2019

The County Council’s Executive Member for Countryside and Rural Affairs, Councillor Edward Heron, awarded a £18,220 grant to The Basingstoke Shed in a Bus initiative at his Decision Day on 19 September 2019.

Councillor Heron said: “I’m pleased we can support this venture which follows the well-established, successful concept of ‘Men’s Sheds’, where people can meet to work on creative projects or mend things, using shared tools. Residents in rural communities can sometimes feel limited in opportunities to interact with others, build friendships, and learn and share skills and knowledge.

“The Parish and Town Council Investment Fund helps bridge these important gaps, encouraging organisations to collaborate and find new, innovative ways of working to increase everyone’s overall wellbeing.”

Men’s Sheds tackle social isolation by offering a shared space and opportunity to work together on projects.

Co-ordinated by Basingstoke Community Shed Group, this new scheme is open to both men and women, and provides a mobile ‘shed’, enabling more isolated communities to benefit from the space on a regular basis.

The scheme involves five Parish groups, each devoting time and money over the two-year pilot, to reach out to residents to make them, and their communities, more resilient.

A double-decker bus has been sourced from Stagecoach and will be converted into a mobile shed, with a classroom-style space downstairs and a workshop upstairs. It will be piloted at five agreed locations – including Hook, Hartley Witney and Tadley.

Chairman of the Basingstoke Community Shed Group, Mike Brading, said: “We are very grateful to Hampshire County Council and our other supporters. We look forward to working with them to bring this new idea to communities around Basingstoke.”

Councillor Heron added: “This project has great long-term potential – helping to ensure that our villages and parishes continue to thrive as the dynamic places they are, and giving people an opportunity to meet others, be creative, and feel more connected to the community.”