Shed project for isolated Barking men needs further funding

Barking Shed Life project

Shed Life project members check out designs drawn up by University of East London architecture students in 2019 - Credit: Andrew Brown

A community initiative designed for isolated Barking men needs further funding before it can be completed, according to a project leader. 

The Shed Life project was first mooted in 2018 by resident Pam Dumbleton and Susie Miller Oduniyi, artistic director of the community interest company Humourisk

Intended as a community space to reduce loneliness among men, two teams from the University of East London (UEL) have already been involved in its design.

First up was UEL's architecture students, who in 2019 designed the building's shell for which planning permission has already been granted. 

The inside was created between September 2020 and January this year by the university's MA interior design team.

Both elements were completed with a view to building starting this summer, but Susie fears this may be pushed back.

She said: "Coronavirus and the lockdown has affected things. It's been harder to meet with the men, even online, which is tough as we want their input on everything. They're the steering group."


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Susie explained that they were able to meet last September while Covid restrictions were loosened, an experience she described as "brilliant".

“Getting together – socially-distanced – made it real again. It gave us a purpose again.” 

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The students were also there on that day, which saw the groups collaborate by drawing potential designs in chalk on the pavement.

Blown away by the work done by both UEL teams, the artistic director wants to generate the funding so their creations can be brought to life.

Barking Shed Life project

UEL students have now designed the interior of the Barking Shed Life project, after the university's architecture students - pictured here during a 2019 visit - completed the external designs. - Credit: Andrew Brown

While the project has backing from The National Lottery, Barking Riverside London, Barking and Dagenham Council, Trust for London and Creekmouth Preservation Society, Susie said they are still running short of cash.

An initial Crowdfunder set up by Humourisk raised £3,035 and another could be on the horizon.

Susie estimates they need around £5,000 for the interior - and £15,000 overall - though this will vary according to "how much in-kind support we get".

To express an interest in donating contact Susie at humourisk@gmail.com 

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