Blackburn Rovers Men in Sheds initiative has given Fred his confidence back

After having a stroke, Fred distanced himself from the outside world, with a noticeable change in Fred’s confidence his wife gave him the encouragement to make a positive a change.

Fred’s wife, Hilda, became aware of the Men in Sheds project facilitated by Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, in late 2022 and encouraged her husband to attend a session, held on a Thursday morning at Ewood Park.

Initially Fred took a cautious approach to the group and wasn’t sure if it was for him. However, Fred continued to attend the weekly sessions and he admitted he was made to feel so welcome by the Community Trust staff and fellow participants, he wanted to make sure Men in Sheds was actively a part of his life.

Fred’s confidence continued to grow, and he has since started attending the Community Trust’s FIT FANS group to improve his physical well-being and he has completed a CPR online programme called Reviver.

Fred, aged 71, said: “Ilyas Patel (Men in Sheds lead) was so good to me from the start and explained how the project helps men.

“Due to my lack of confidence, my brother-in-law joined me for my first session, and I felt welcome straight away.

“I had recently suffered a stroke and I spent a lot of time at home doing nothing. The doctor said I needed to get out and get involved in an activity.

“I was apprehensive about joining as I felt I would be doing plenty of physical activities and my body wouldn’t let me. However, Ilyas made it easy for me and said we are not just a gardening club, we are much more than that.

“Not all the lads do physical work due to their health, so I join them, have a cup of tea and a chat.

“Men in Sheds has been a great thing for me as my mental health has not been the best. My confidence has improved, I have started doing more things at home, and it is great knowing I have somewhere to go every Thursday and meet my new friends.

“I would honestly be lost without it after what I have had to go through.”

Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s Men in Sheds lead, Ilyas Patel added: “Fred has gone through an awful lot and all he wanted was to try and get back to his normal self. He feels Men in Sheds has helped him and with the support of the team he feels he is now on the right track.

“Men in Sheds is all about helping and supporting men who might suffer from mental health, loneliness or just want to get involved in a new hobby and make new friends.

“It is so important to raise awareness about Men in Sheds and groups alike to ensure as many people as possible can access if they need support. Alongside this, it is important to celebrate the success that participants have had with the programme, so they feel valued and encourage others to take part.

“Mental Health Awareness Week is an amazing opportunity for people to find out more and raise further awareness.”