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Foundations First is Shelter Scotland’s Renfrewshire based family housing support service, which is putting co-production and service user involvement at the forefront of its activities and providing a space for members of the community to get together.

One of the service’s initiatives is a Men’s Shed – a relaxed place for all men from the wider Renfrewshire area to come along to and meet new people, share skills and, most importantly, have fun. The team realised that whilst there are a number of groups and events in the community geared towards women, there was very little for men. The Men’s Shed aims to fill the gap and welcomes men or all ages to join in. Isolation and loneliness can have a huge impact on an individual’s wellbeing, so having a sense of purpose, and a place to go and have a cup of tea and a chat with friends is really important. Before Christmas the men organised a pot luck Christmas dinner, and recently the Shed held a pool competition – won by Allan ‘the shark’, who welcomes anyone to challenge him for the title!

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Rather excitingly, Renfrewshire Council have also gifted the Men’s Shed five spaces at a local allotment which our green-fingered members are very excited about, and for the handier amongst the group we’ve also started a woodworking workshop with a demonstration on how to make bird boxed being given by rangers from Castle Semple Country Park coming up on 4th April.

Wednesdays at Foundations First mean “somewhere to chill, relax, share skills and meet new friends”. It is a place for the whole community to discuss what they’d like to learn, be advised upon or what they’re entitled to. One of our volunteer life coaches, Lesley, came along and gave a workshop on how to be energy efficient and save money on utility bills, which sat alongside the monthly clinic run by our own adviser Jennifer who provides advice on money and debt worries.

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It’s not just our service users who have been learning useful skills though. Members of the community who regularly attend the group had asked if we could have a walking group, volunteer John and peer supporter Jim attended a Walk Leadership course, which provided the skills and knowledge needed to lead organised low-level walks. So far the group has been on two walks which everyone has really enjoyed.

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Our Men’s Shed and Wednesday group clearly mean a lot to the local Renfrewshire community. After our recent Burns Supper, our service user Stephen sent a message to say “thank you for providing a warm welcome and for treating me with an excellent lunch today. I had an enjoyable time and had a wee tear in my eye due to the kindness and generosity that made me feel proud to be part of the community.”

Both groups are open to anyone in the community who wants to get involved, whether that’s to meet new people, learn new skills or just have a friendly place to hang out.

If you’d like more details you can get in touch by calling 0344 515 1085.

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