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Actis-insulated community ‘shed’ aimed at tackling loneliness is up and running

A new community building in Aberdeenshire, to which Actis donated more than 400 sq m of insulation materials, has recently opened its doors to a range of groups as part of a wider campaign to tackle social isolation.

The 3,500 sq ft timber frame and blockwork Aboyne and Mid-Deeside Community Shed is part of the growing Men’s Shed movement – although this one is non-gender-specific – and is one of more than 400 such enterprises across the UK.

Actis was one of a number of companies offering their products or services free of charge to help reduce the cost of the £450,000 plus project, as part of its policy of giving something back to the communities in which it operates.

The first two community groups began using the facility this autumn. More than 80 people have signed up to use the workshop element of the shed, which offers pursuits such as woodwork, metalwork, welding, car maintenance, small appliance repair, electronics projects and amateur radio. Rotary club member Stuart Robertson, one of the driving forces behind the shed’s creation, explained: “Our photovoltaics are generating away on the roof and with the help of Actis insulation products the building should be relatively inexpensive to run.”

In addition to weathering an enforced delay both in construction and opening its doors to the public because of the pandemic, adjustments have been made to the original internal specification – which include the addition of clear acrylic screens on castors for maximum flexibility and Covid security. The upstairs floor, for arts, craft, music and keep fit groups is fully operational, with an artist in residence project in full swing.

A social area provides facilities for small groups and general social interaction in line with one of the project’s principal aims – to combat loneliness and improve general wellbeing. And its large kitchen for teaching cookery and kitchen skills as well as on-site catering is also happily up and running.

Actis donated nearly 150 sq m of insulating breather membrane BoostR Hybrid, more than 130sq m of 50mm honeycomb insulation Hybris and an identical quantity of insulating vapour control layer HControl Hybrid towards the project. Men’s Sheds are designed to encourage people to get together over a shared passion for making things, with the aim of encouraging friendships and reducing loneliness.

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