A garden shed has proved an unlikely meeting place for war veterans in Salford.
The solar-panelled wooden shed at Kersal Vale Allotments – dubbed Soil and Shed – has become something of a lifeline for ex-service men and women.
Soil and Shed is the brainchild of charity Lower Kersal Young People’s and Community Group (LKYPCG), which built the shed as a community hub for local groups and organisations using the allotment site.
LKYPCG has now opened the shed doors to welcome in local war veterans who can get their hands dirty on the allotment site or just sit in their shed and share their experiences with their fellow comrades.
Thomas Lever MBE, who runs LKYPCG, said: “We are very proud to be working with the Royal British Legion to support former military men and women and help them meet new people and learn new skills.
“Some will join in on the allotments, while others have injuries they sustained in the forces, so they will sit in their wheelchairs with a cup-of-tea and share their stories.
“Ex-servicemen and women can often feel very isolated after leaving the forces. They sacrifice a lot, risk their lives and lose friends and comrades along the way, so Soil and Shed is the perfect place for them to socialise and reconnect with the armed forces community.”
The LKYPCG charity provides activities and opportunities for hundreds of people across Salford from its site at St Aidan’s Church and the neighbouring allotments on Littleton Road.
The charity previously had a shed on the allotment site, but it was too small to accommodate all the local groups and organisations that wanted to get involved, which has included local youth groups, refugees and people with mental health issues.
Now thanks to a £900 grant from Salford housing association Salix Homes through its Springboard fund, the charity has been able to build a much larger shed.
Mick Walsh, neighbourhood manager at Salix Homes, said: “Soil and Shed is a fantastic project, which Salix Homes is very proud to support.
“This garden shed has proved the most unlikely of meeting places for people from all walks of life, from war veterans to refugees, providing a lifeline for local people who may otherwise be feeling lonely and isolated.
“Soil and Shed has become a real community hub, and we look forward to seeing more local people in Salford using this fantastic facility to learn new skills, make friends and access help and support.”
The Springboard fund exists to support projects and initiatives in Salford that boost community spirit, promote health and wellbeing, reduce isolation or improve the environment.
Since launching the initiative last year, Salix Homes has donated more than £50,000 to community groups and projects in Salford.
To find out more about how to apply for a Springboard grant, go to: https://www.salixhomes.org/springboard