Roy Brown was at his lowest ebb – homeless, starving and so deeply depressed he didn’t want to live and tried several times to end his own life.
Two years on and he has turned his life around thanks to a new sense of purpose, friendship and a new “family” he has found at Limavady Men’s Shed.
When he joined the enterprise, Roy had been struggling with dangerous levels of depression and had tried four times to take his own life.
Originally from England, Roy moved to Northern Ireland 12 years ago. When Roy’s relationship broke up shortly after arriving , he found myself with nowhere to live.
Roy explains: “I had nothing, I had to leave everything behind me, I went to live in a caravan we had. Shortly afterwards, my wife then left Northern Ireland with my daughter and went back to England.”
A local policeman spotted Roy’s caravan and having heard his story started bringing him food and tried to help. He put him in touch with Men’s Shed, which Roy says has literally saved his life.
Roy Brown’s life has been completely transformed by the Limavady Men’s Shed.
He says: “I was at a very low point and found it tough going along to the Men’s Shed on my own for the first time but they are a great bunch of people.”
“I went in on a Friday and they welcomed me and told me they would be open on the Monday again. I turned up on the Monday and I haven’t left since. It has given me a purpose to carry on.”
Roy is now a member of the management committee at the shed. Brought up on a farm, he says he has always enjoyed working with his hands. The Men’s Shed has allowed him to go back to doing what he loves and most days he could be found in the wood shop where he made models out of pieces of wood.
Having made Limavady Men’s Shed his “home”, the closure of the shed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdown, affected Roy significantly.
Roy felt isolated and deflated, because he could no longer meet his shedder friends and his crafting and woodwork came to an abrupt end.
To ease the boredom and keep his mind active, Roy decided to set up a crafting space within his home so that he could create miniature models with recycled materials.
In discussing why he chose to take up the craft modelling, he said: “The models were the only way I could cope with the lockdown.”
He decided to focus on creating models of some of the Men’s Sheds which he had been involved in building or renovating, so he knew their dimensions, materials and features very well.
The models were the only way I could cope with the lockdown
Roy had previously shown his crafting skill by creating stunning miniature lighthouses, which he created from a mix of lollipop sticks and other recycled materials. He had shared his skill with other shedders by delivering a four-week crafting course for the members who wanted to make lighthouses for themselves.
Roy has made perfect models of the Limavady, Cornfield (Coleraine) and Portstewart Men’s Sheds using wooden coffee stirrers and recycled materials which he has gathered during lockdown.
His plan is to give each of the five Be Safe Be Well Men’s Sheds a model of their shed to display for all members to enjoy.
He even plans to deliver a miniature model crafting class for members once the sheds are fully open.
Roy said it was his way of “giving back” to the sheds which have provided him with great friendship, hope and opportunity.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can free phone the Samaritans on 116 123.