The first Age UK managed sheds where in Kendal, Blidworth and South London, offering woodworking, DIY and lots of other knowledge boosting activities. Of course just as important to any shed’s participants is inter generational skill sharing and just having a good old natter! Not everybody has access to a computer, smartphone or tablet, so without men’s sheds this section of the community would miss out on the everyday socialising that goes on via Facebook, Twitter etc. Some would say that traditional face to face communication is becoming a thing of the past, something that these community sheds can address. One chap from the Kendal shed said ‘My only regret is that a vehicle such as Men in Sheds had not been available in Kendal to retirees like myself years ago.’
Actress Maureen Lipman met members of the Hull Men’s Shed, as part of her ‘Holding Back the Years’ BBC series, which explores ways of tackling loneliness in older people. Sitting in a pub can get tedious after a while not to mention costly, but community sheds can offer so much more.
Men don’t tend to visit community centres as ‘knit n natter’ is not really for them, this is where the concept of Men’s Sheds comes in. Charities are well known for coming up with some excellent ideas to combat loneliness in older people, and Age UK has certainly played its part in developing and promoting the idea. Initially helping to set up a Men in Sheds pilot project, Age UK supplied the workshop with tools, equipment and even a paid co-ordinator to oversee. Shedders ran the day to day proceedings and eventually took control, deciding on what activities they wanted to include. The sheds are now more or less user led, which has resulted in a mind boggling variation of unique pursuits within each individual shed.
The concept of Men’s Sheds has been a bit of a life saver to many, as people find there is nothing much to do after retirement. So the thought of meeting other like minded souls, and perhaps learning new skills or showing others how to achieve better results is extremely appealing to most.
The Shedders are on the march, as the push for more sheds to start up nationwide has been gathering strength for some time. Aspects of starting a shed such as finding premises, funding and health and safety are discussed in meet ups held in places like the Chelmsford Shed. Meetings held around the time of Men’s Health Week are particularly relevant and serve to highlight the issues which can be alleviated by shed gatherings.
In the same neck of the woods you will find Camden Town Shed, which offers its space and facilities to benefit older people. People from all areas of London are welcome, and the club is free to attend. Tools and equipment, which are mainly for woodworking here, are donated by members of the public or local businesses. This group have an interesting news page on their website full of info and interesting titbits.
It’s amazing how dedicated these shedders are, demonstrated by the impressive turn out to the first ‘Meet the Shedders’ event in December 2016. The day was hosted by the High Wycombe Shed and was a great success and very well attended, considering the abysmal weather. There was a shed load of camaraderie as shedders from 6 sheds in Amersham, Aylesbury, Buckingham, High Wycombe, West Bletchley and Winslow got together to celebrate. Tips, ideas and stories, some hilarious, were shared on all kinds of topics, and refreshments were donated by Tesco at Loudwater.
A Men’s Shed in Hartford has the right idea making an impressive video of guitar playing on a refurbished instrument, to prove there is no limit to the variety of things people find to do in these sheds. An article in the Shropshire Star, pointed out that Men in Sheds provides ‘everything a “typical” man needs – tools, sheds and hands-on activities’. They were reporting on the Market Drayton Men’s Shed Club, held in a donated cabin Check out their Facebook page which shows examples of what members have produced. Although it’s not about what you end up with, but the fun of having a warm welcome and of participating.