ActivGardens launches its new look men’s shed

ActivGardens launches its new look men’s shed

Date: Friday 22 March 2019

Time: 10.00am to 12.30pm with cutting of the ribbon at 11.30am

Where: CRESS Pavilion, Halifax Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 8RE

For more information: Please contact Danny Thorrington on 07532 794173 or, or ActivLives office: 01473 345350

In the past year, our merry band of shedders have been working hard to build an extension, as well as designing and making work benches for people with disabilities, alongside other improvements and additions.

The new look ActivShed, part of ActivGardens’ People’s Community Garden, has been kindly funded through Suffolk Community Foundation by Fonnereau Road Health Foundation, Pound Gates and Sevatas and private donors. Representatives of these organisations will be present to cut the ribbon at 11.30am.


The launch will run alongside our Spring CRESS plant and produce market, with seedlings to plant on your plot, bedding plants to spruce up your garden or windowsills, and freshly picked produce to perk you up after the long winter.

Young people from a local school will be hosting our CRESS Community Café with a range of delicious goodies in the spirit of the day.

And of course ActivSheds items such as bird boxes, hedgehog homes, garden obelisks and more will be available for sale on the day. Our enthusiastic team will also be ready to take orders for bespoke items and are happy to quote for renovating garden benches and furniture.

The project, part of ActivLives charity, runs every Friday morning and at other times of the week by arrangement. Our “men in sheds” are keen to pass on their skills to the younger generation, and the new facilities will enable older people who need support or may be in the early stages of dementia to keep active in a social way. Other groups who would like to set up a Shed project are encouraged to come along to the launch to meet our Shedders, or get in touch to share ideas.

Part of an international network, ‘Men in Sheds’, the project is for men who would like to share knowledge, learn new skills, and pursue hobbies and interests to do with carpentry, DIY and construction. It is also an opportunity for them to socialise and make friends in an active way, and share the all-important cuppa while contributing to their community.

ActivSheds is an innovative social programme to keep men socially connected during unemployment, retirement and/ or widowhood. The club is tailored to suit men’s interests and needs and encourages them to use their skills or hobbies so they have a real sense of purpose.

ActivSheds is a place to feel at home and pursue practical interests while meeting other locals in a relaxed informal way. Members share tools and resources, work on projects of their own choosing at their own pace and in a safe, friendly and inclusive venue. It is a forum to share skills, learn informally and pursue personal interests and contribute to community projects, as well as a place to meet new friends and make new contacts and support systems.

How getting involved in a shed project can improve your health

The project draws on the ‘Men’s Sheds’ network, originating in Australia, which has existing projects in the UK, including Suffolk. ActivSheds responds to a priority for Public Health Suffolk, where concerns around lonely, older men reflect national trends, outlined below.

Increasing numbers of men are facing loneliness and isolation in old age, new research suggests. The number of older men living alone is set to increase by 65 per cent in the next 15 years, from 911,000 to 1.5 million by 2030, sparking concerns for a new generation of lonely pensioners as increasing numbers of men outlive their partners.

Men tend to be more socially isolated than women and are often reluctant to join clubs for older people. When their partner dies, often a man’s social life shrinks. With social isolation and loneliness posing a serious risk to their health, local activities must be more tailored to men and we must involve men in designing services – many of our services simply don’t work for men.

The report, ‘The Emerging Crisis for Older Men’ by the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK) and Independent Age, found:

  • Isolated and lonely men were much more likely to be in poor health. Over a quarter (28%) of the loneliest men said their health was poor, in contrast to just 1 in 20 (5%) men who were not lonely
  • Mental health, particularly depression, was also important. Over 1 in 4 (26%) of the most isolated men were depressed, in contrast to just 6% of the least isolated
  • Around a third of the most isolated men (36%) were in the lowest income group compared to just 7% of the least isolated.

  • We are planning a Women’s Skills Share ActivSheds event ‘Take up Tools’ Tuesday 26th February 2019 from 10am until 1pm. The session is designed to be fun, accessible and sociable – but places are limited, so please book. Supervised children are very welcome.
  • We need volunteers to help maintain our gardens, grow veg, make flowers bloom, keep our bees buzzing, help in nature conservation, repair our facilities, support staff to lead groups and mentor our young people, drive vans, bake cakes …. There is a job for everyone! Please get in touch if you would like to turn over a new leaf in 2019 and contribute to ActivGardens in Ipswich – People’s Community Garden or Chantry Walled Garden – and Sudbury.


Future events:

  • Thursday 11th April 11am till 2pm: Spring Plant Fair and Coffee morning at Chantry Walled Garden, Chantry Park, Hadleigh Road, Ipswich IP2 0BS
  • Friday 10th May 10 am till 12.30pm: CRESS Produce Market and Community Café at the CRESS Pavilion, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 0HH
New activity sessions in Ipswich target the 50+ age group

New activity sessions in Ipswich target the 50+ age group

One of the ways that they do this is through the ‘Everyday Activ – Ipswich’ initiative, which is run by ActivLives and supported by Ipswich Borough Council. This initiative is focussed particularly upon providing accessible sport and physical activity opportunities for mature adults. This initiative has recently had some new sessions introduced to the programme, including an ActivStretch class which starts on Thursday 10th January 10.30am-12noon at All Hallows Church Hall, Landseer Road, Ipswich.
“We run many sessions as part of the Everyday Activ – Ipswich programme and one thing that keeps coming up is the importance of remaining flexible and keeping the joints mobile” said Sophie Barber from ActivLives. “This session is aimed at exactly that, some stretching and gentle mobility to keep the muscles and joints moving in order to make everyday tasks, such as putting on socks or reaching up to the cupboard, that little bit easier. The session also includes a cup of tea as well!” added Sophie. “All of our sessions are very sociable and friendly and new participants are always very welcome. You don’t have to have any prior experience or be sporty in anyway, just wear some loose clothing and suitable flat footwear. Like all of our activities, the first session to new participants is free, so why not give it a go!”

“The ‘Everyday Activ-Ipswich’ programme is sport and physical activity which is adapted to suit people who might find mainstream sports clubs or centres a little daunting”, explained Mike McCarthy from ActivLives. “Most of our participants are over 60 years old with many in their 80’s! We offer all sorts of activities including Walking Football, Boccia, Badminton, Ping Pong and Bowls”.

One of the regular participants commented “whilst we are all here enjoying ourselves and each other’s company, we’re not sitting in the Doctors surgery are we!”

The ActivStretch class is just one of three new sessions that have been added to the already busy ‘Everyday Activ’ Programme for the New Year. As well as the ActivStretch group there is also a new Kurling session and Beginners Yoga class both being held on a Monday at the St Ralphael Club, Highfield Road, Ipswich. Both of these start back on Monday 21st January.
If you would like to find out more about the ‘Everyday Activ’ programme in Ipswich and how you can get involved, please contact ActivLives on 01473 345350 or email

Calling all women! Learn new skills in the New Year

Calling all women! Learn new skills in the New Year

ActivGardens Women’s Skills Exchange is offering two FREE workshops in the New Year for you to try something different!

  • ‘Take up Tools’ Tuesday 26th February 2019 Basic woodworking at our ActivSheds project, CRESS Pavilion, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE
  • ‘Get Buzzing for Spring’ Thursday 28th March Learn about what you need to start out in beekeeping and essential knowledge for your first year of keeping bees at CRESS Pavilion, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE. Plus tour of our CommuniBees Apiary.


These sessions are designed to be fun, accessible and sociable – but places are limited, so please book. Supervised children are very welcome.

The project will bring women together in an active way to learn and share skills and improve their health and wellbeing in a welcoming environment. Women will be able to engage and develop at a pace to suit them, fitting around responsibilities of home and children, and doing as much as they are able.

The project, funded through Suffolk Community Foundation, will involve women of all ages, abilities and ethnicities in learning and sharing skills and developing new opportunities for themselves. It will bring older women and younger women together in a spirit of sharing and co-operation.

The project aims to establish a network of “Garden Companions” to help new garden volunteers settle in and learn horticultural skills.


To book a place, volunteer, or if you have a skill you would like to learn or share, please get in touch with ActivLives 01473 345350  or Project Co-ordinator Lesley Hartley Mobile 07496 762093.

Thompson & Morgan donates flower seeds to local charities

Thompson & Morgan donates flower seeds to local charities

Thompson & Morgan just donated 100s of packets of flower seeds to local charities, ActivLives and St Elizabeth Hospice. The seeds were left over from a promotion that we ran in conjunction with Garden Answers and Garden News, two magazines published by Bauer Media, who were more than happy for the surplus packets to be donated to Suffolk charities.

A sack of seed packets was handed over to Danny Thorrington, ActivGardens Project Coordinator at the charity’s Community Garden on Halifax Road in Ipswich, where he was teaching a group of pupils from Chantry Academy.

Danny said:
“We’re so pleased to receive this donation of seeds from Thompson & Morgan! With our Christmas Community Market event coming up on Friday December 7th, we will be selling and raffling flower seed bundles to raise funds for our ongoing work at the gardens and in the wider community.”

Sonia Mermagen, our Press and Communications Officer, commented:
“The work that ActivLives and ActivGardens are involved in is so beneficial to the local community and completely in line with T&M’s commitment to encouraging young people into gardening and growing. It was a pleasure to see what Danny and his team are achieving in the community garden – and to meet some of the young people who are helping and learning there.”

Gardening Blog | Thompson & Morgan

Garden project promises community cheer at festive market

Garden project promises community cheer at festive market

A wonderful selection of crafts, plants, seasonal wreath and produce will be on offer at our festive market, all made or grown by participants of ActivGardens.

  • CRESS Community Market and Café is Friday 7th December
  • 10am till 12.30pm
  • At the CRESS Pavilion, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE


Students of Chantry Academy will be behind the serving hatch, with an offer of seasonal goodies they have made, while Ipswich, Holbrook and Stoke academies are preparing a raffle and some fun Christmas games for you to play.

There will be winter greens to keep you healthy through winter, alongside other produce from our community garden.

Pansies grown at Chantry Walled Garden will be available to brighten up your garden and pots, together with hanging baskets, tubs, and Christmas wreaths.

ActivSheds are busy making hedgehog homes, bird boxes and bird feeders as gifts to help our wildlife, mentoring our young woodworkers who will be at the shed offering Christmas gifts with a difference.

Every pound you spend with us will go into our gardening, construction, beekeeping and nature conservation programmes for the whole community, including long-term unemployed, people with learning disabilities, older people with dementia, members of minority ethnic communities, and young people.

So why not come and join us and pick up some original gifts for a greener Christmas!

For further details, please contact ActivLives on 01473 345350 or Susannah on 07530 407302 or email