If there is one thing which encompasses everything most men love, it’s a shed! The word ‘Shed’, no longer represents simply a storage space for the lawnmower, but can symbolise life enhancement, enjoyment, health and well-being. We are talking of course about the incredible phenomenon of the ‘Men’s Shed’!
These are locally run community spaces, specifically, but not exclusively, aimed at the male half of the species, reflecting their needs and preferences. This fascinating concept began in Australia, with the realisation that men congregating under one roof, to carry out DIY tasks and projects, or pursue hobbies, was a great idea. Somewhere where tools may be stored safely, skills and tips can be shared and gallons of tea is available, is the perfect idea of heaven for many men who perhaps live alone or are retired and have too much free time on their hands. Finishing work can leave people at a loss for something to do, they often miss their routine, workmates, income and a sense of identity. Isolation can become a factor for a lot of men even if they led an active social life beforehand.
The majority of Men’s Sheds are user led, meaning the members run it themselves, and maybe plan meetings, or group projects to benefit the local community for instance. The ‘shed’ is actually sometimes a village hall, community centre or donated premises frequented by productive ‘Shedders’. All manner of things are created in these sheds such as bird boxes, planters, ornaments and pieces of art. Mending, repairing and model making are all on the agenda.
The testament of men who visit their local Men’s Shed shows just how much they are needed, and it’s no wonder they are described as ‘life changing’.
Once the idea of Men’s Sheds caught on, news spread like wild fire, and now sheds have popped up all over the UK including Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Some are funded by government, some by charities like Age UK, and others are privately funded. There is a lot of excitement about these sheds, and the benefits for not only men but their network of family and friends, along with other organisations are manifold. They offer a solution to problems like where to go, what to do, and why to do it.
There is a shed for just about every taste, some lean heavily towards woodwork and creating things, while others concentrate on set community projects. Sometimes each member of a shed will do their own thing with individual projects. Some sheds are a mix of all of the above, which is the beauty of the arrangement, so everybody has a reason to be there.
Some of the advantages of the Men’s Shed are:
Face to Face Social Contact – Many older men in particular do not use or have access to online communications through outlets like social media, so these meeting places are an ideal way of socialising.
Practical Skills – Activities engaged in while in the Men’s Shed involve social skills leading to increased happiness, motor skills enabling bodily fitness and problem solving for mental agility.
A Place to Talk – Men generally feel pressured to keep their feelings to themselves and get on with things if low. They can sometimes feel lonely even in a crowd, but sheds are a safe place to air thoughts, opinions, feelings and experiences, they are said to offer an invisible arm around a man’s shoulder.
Mood Lifting – There is nothing like a good laugh to raise the spirits, and a group of men will inevitably end up telling jokes and funny stories.
Long Term Savings for the NHS – It’s a fact that being more outgoing and chatting etc is extremely beneficial for general health. People get depressed less often and receive the support they need to stay alert and upbeat, mentally and physically.