Loneliness is a real concern for older people and their families. As their ability to get out and about reduces and their social circle decreases, an aged person can find occupation and interaction with the outside world hard to come by. When we think of old age loneliness, we may think of an elderly lady living alone. However, there are plenty of men out there affected by loneliness, often able-bodied but retired and lacking occupation.
Loneliness is also well known to have negative effects on a person's mental and physical wellbeing. Enter then 'Men in Sheds', a truly heart-warming community project that brings lonely men together into a social haven, a Men's Shed...
What is a Men's Shed?
A Men’s Shed is exactly as it sounds, a shed where men can seek refuge and pursue their practical interests. They are a community-owned building, often a larger version of a typical garden shed, and are located so that they can be easily accessed by residents from the local area. Step inside a Men’s Shed and you will discover a friendly, safe and inclusive environment where members share tools and resources to work on projects of their own choice at their own pace.
To be able to come to the shed and work and help others gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I feel a sense of worth and love the way all the men work together.
Gerry - A Men in Sheds member
A Men in Shed's group primarily consists of wood working activities such as carpentry, joinery, carving and renovation. A Men's Shed also plays host to metalwork, gardening, tool renovation, model engineering and, in one region, even car building! Perhaps the most significant activity in these sheds though is the social interaction between their occupants. They are not just a local workshop, but rather a social hub where members can network, share feelings and build relationships. Men's Sheds have been referred to as, 'a creche for old men', but in practice, they also attract men of other ages and in some cases women and young people.
The UK Men's Sheds Association
The Men in Sheds movement began in Australia where older men realised the value of coming together around practical tasks on a regular basis, particularly if they had a designated workshop where tools and work in progress could be stored. The idea came to the UK in 2009 and the impact they have been having has been so positive, we now have a dedicated association, the UK Men’s Sheds Association (UKMSA).
The UKMSA promote and support Men’s Sheds through the media and collect and redistribute helpful information about the project. They act as a central point for all sheds, responding to enquiries, signposting and advising existing and potential participants. They also help interested men to create a Men's Shed and build a community in their region.
Numbers that show the significance of the Men in Sheds project in the UK have been published by the UKMSA:
- 432 sheds currently open
- 118 shed in development
- 6 new sheds open every month
- 10,000+ members
For more information about the UK Men's Sheds Association, visit their website: UKMSA Website.
Case Study: Men in Sheds Hull
The Men in Sheds group in Hull, East Yorkshire is a great example of a Men's Shed. It is a community-owned facility that serves residents in the north of the city and is supported by local businesses, NHS Hull CCG and community foundation organisations.
Men in Sheds Hull is so much more than just a workshop. Members can participate in and benefit from numerous, varying activities, including:
- Cooking: Learn basic cooking techniques with a former professional chef.
- Music Club: An active music club at the shed for those who like to listen to or play music.
- Computing: 1-to-1 support to learn basic computer skills.
- Metal & Wood Working: A fully equipped workshop where members can undertake individual projects or participate in group and community projects.
- Photography: Learn how to take perfect shots in photography classes for beginners.
The Men in SHeds Hull group also go on day trips to local museums, arrange brewery tours and visit the nearby countryside and coastline.