A shed is to a man what a handbag is to a woman.
Men in sheds is part of a growing, international movement which started in Australia in 2003/4. Age UK Men in Sheds have been designed to appeal to older men less likely to make use of standard “Wellbeing” services. The scheme aims to give over-50s men somewhere to go and make new friends while also learning and sharing wood/handicraft skills.
With the help of lottery funding Age UK has been providing a Shed-like workshop space; tools; equipment and a paid or volunteer co-ordinator (to support the running of each Shed) while all Shed-based activities have been left to Shed members to decide for themselves.
Some sheds around the country have been privately funded by the members themselves or with support from the local business community.
With activities ranging from woodworking and inter-generational skills sharing to simply socialising, Shed members are actively encouraged in retaining the day-to-day control and ownership in the running of their own Sheds.
According to research for Age Concern, for the first time more than one million older men now live alone in the UK. It also found men over 50 are often less socially active than their wives.
But whether they are lonely, want to chat over a cup of tea, or just want to get out of the house for a while, this project offers a little 'shed therapy' for men.
It also aims to promote the benefits of keeping active later in life.
The men in sheds movement has been seen to help relieve social isolation and empower people’s sense of identity and purpose in later life – to addressing the often neglected health needs of older men through informal ‘shoulder to shoulder’ models of male sociability.
A case study.
Graham Stephens is coordinator for the Chester branch and he told me of some of his experiences:
‘There are now quite a lot of Men in Sheds springing up, and more are becoming self-financing. We basically make “stuff”, mostly in wood. The group decides what they are going to do and how they will go about it. I have an engineering background working in metal but a lathe is a lathe. My real skilful time in wood was when I was quite young. I also have DIY and build skills such as brickwork, tiling and mechanics… essentially broad based skills.
‘I will give you a case history from our shed. A guy who was 64 and skilled (in the past) in DIY had a massive stroke. For the next seven years he did almost nothing. His GP practice suggested he come to the shed.
At the end of four hours he was in tears because, with a bit of help, he had made a birds nesting box. His family can’t believe how much he has improved. He still has paralysis but there are ways around doing things with one hand – even in four hours we can change things.
On his next visit he had a request from five neighbours as they would like one. Our attendee was smiling ear to ear and quickly pleased his neighbours by providing them with a nesting box. This is just one example of how Men in Sheds works.
‘Mentoring goes on all the time, a sort of buddy system. Each shed has its own character depending on who is coordinator. It’s about people being able to motivate others. Some coordinators are volunteers while others get paid. Some just get together and set up their own shed.
Money making enterprise.
‘Sometimes income is generated by the shed. One shed makes £850 per month by making things and selling them, but they have retired joiners with expertise and can get hold of wood to work with freely. But it needs someone to set it up, someone who has good interpersonal skills. Who can hear their story with real understanding and empathy.’
General Phone: 07500 831 395
Hartford - Unit 15, Hartford Business Park, 134 Chester Road, Hartford CW8 2AB. T: 01606 301897
Crewe - Unit 16, Brierley Business Park, Mirion Street, Crewe, CW1 2AZ. T: 01270 748645
Chester - Unit 63, Evans Easyspace, Minerva Avenue, Chester. T: 01244 389358
Ellesmere Port - Unit 25, Junction 8 Business Park, Rossfield Road, Ellesmere Port, CH65 3AS. T: 0151 3572098
The sheds are open from Monday - Thursday 10am-4pm, with the exception of the Chester Shed, which is open from Tuesday - Friday, 10am-4pm.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3033 1089.
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