Beating bowel cancer together

Comfort in the palm of your hand

We've teamed up with a community group in Wales who make hand-carved wooden comfort birds to bring comfort to people who are anxious, in pain, or have been through trauma, including those affected by bowel cancer.

Members of the Men’s Shed Cymru branch in Newport meet twice a week to connect and create through woodwork. Now the ‘shedders’ have used their skills to make the bespoke comfort birds, which are being sold by us, with profits being split between the charity and Men’s Shed Cymru.

Jane Metcalfe, Community Outreach Officer for Bowel Cancer UK in Wales, first met the Newport group - which goes by the name ‘The Would Shed’ - when she visited them to raise awareness of the free NHS bowel screening test, as well as spotting the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

Jane said: “We’re incredibly grateful to the Would Shed for making these beautiful comfort birds for us and helping to raise vital funds for Bowel Cancer UK, while also offering some comfort to those affected by the disease. The birds fit neatly into your palm and provide a really smooth, comforting, tactile experience.

“More than 2,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in Wales each year, and the disease is the country’s second biggest cancer killer. But it’s treatable and curable, especially if it’s diagnosed early, so it’s wonderful to speak to groups like Men’s Shed Cymru to help them to recognise the signs and encourage them to take the screening test at home, even if they haven’t experienced any symptoms.

“Most of the ‘shedders’, as they are known, are of screening age, and while most of them were aware of the at home bowel screening test and had done it, some were not,” said Jane.

“I was thrilled to hear some members went on to take the screening test for the first time after I’d spoken to them. Thankfully, these cases were negative, but screening really does save lives.”

Men’s Sheds Cymru is a Lottery funded project, hosted by Welsh housing association Hafan Cymru, with groups operating all over Wales. The Would Shed is based at recycling charity Wastesavers’ depot.

Chris Southern, Men’s Shed Cymru’s Regional Development Officer for South East Wales, said the sheds play an important part in the wellbeing of a group of older men who may not have regular opportunities to mix with other people.

Chris said: “The Men’s Sheds concept is about leisure and fun, but also carries a serious health message. We know that depression and loneliness affect many people, but men are still more reluctant to reach out and talk about their personal situation.

“The Would Shed is a safe space for the group to meet, talk and work with wood, and we’re told it makes a huge difference to members’ health and wellbeing – I sincerely believe the project is saving lives.”

Would Shed member Peter Jones said: “When Jane visited us, we showed her a comfort bird carved from offcuts of wood. She thought they were something special which could help the charity’s patients and supporters.

“The Would Shed’s members feel privileged to be making the comfort birds for such a wonderful organisation and helping people affected by bowel cancer.”

We're determined to save lives and improve the quality of life of everyone affected by the disease. We provide health and wellbeing support and information for thousands of patients; campaigns for earlier diagnosis and better treatment and services for those affected, and invests in research to reduce the impact of bowel cancer in the future. 

A limited number of the comfort birds have been made and are available to buy on our website.  

For more information on the Wales Bowel Screening programme visit or call the free helpline on 0800 294 3370.

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