A PIONEERING Colwyn Bay community scheme helped a man who hadn’t been outside his house for three years to start a fulfilling new life.

Due to problems with his eyesight which brought on a loss of confidence 81-year-old Alun Jones felt unable to leave his home.

But things took a massive turn for the better when he became a member of Colwyn Bay Men’s Shed, a regular meeting place offering a range of new interests and companionship, started with support from Cartrefi Conwy housing association.

And the shed’s new workshop, housed in two former police garages next to Colwyn Bay Town Hall, has been officially opened by Wales’s Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths AM, who described the project as “inspirational”.

The basic idea for the sheds was born in Australia in the late 1990s to help some men overcome a traditional reluctance to socialise and discuss their feelings and well-being.

Nerys Veldhuizen, Cartrefi Conwy’s Older Persons Engagement Co-ordinator and Megan Rose from Community Voice, heard about its benefits and decided to start a shed to serve the community in Colwyn Bay.

They advertised the idea locally and were contacted by Brian Hall of Old Colwyn who had already been making efforts to organise a men’s shed for the area.

Cartrefi Conwy made available its Pentre Newydd Community Centre in Llanelian Road, Old Colwyn and the new shed opened in May of last year.

Nerys said “We are currently starting a similar group in Llanwrst and that has been inspired by the success of this one.”

It has since gone from strength to strength and now has over 50 members aged 30 to 85 who meet every Friday from 10am-12 noon at the centre.

The group’s new workshop at the old police garages in Rhiw Road, Colwyn Bay, has been provided by Bay of Colwyn Town Council, which also arranged for the men’s shed to get a Welsh Government grant for around £5,000 towards its refurbishment.

It is already kitted out for pastimes such as woodwork and computing and the aim is to build up facilities in the future.

Retired nurse Alun Jones, who lives in Colwyn Bay, said: “I’m partially blind and a few years ago I started to lose my confidence about going out on my own.

“I lost three years of my life when I didn’t want to go out of the house.

“Now, instead of sitting there watching daytime TV, I go to the meetings every Friday and I really look forward to it. I’ve met lots of new friends and we have a good laugh.”

“The shed has absolutely changed my life and has been a real godsend to me.”

Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “The concept of the shed is brilliant – a place where men can come along, talk and support each other.”