Men’s Sheds are similar to garden sheds – a place to pursue practical interests at leisure, to practice skills and enjoy making and mending. The difference is that garden sheds and their activities are often solitary in nature while Men’s Sheds are the opposite. They’re about social connections and friendship building, sharing skills and knowledge.
The recent Men’s Sheds impact survey showed a 24% decrease in loneliness in members and further data will be released in coming months. Sheds are whatever the members (or Shedders as they are called) want them to be. Some Sheds are purpose built workshops, but they rarely start out that way. Many don’t have premises at all in the beginning and instead form a group that meets regularly for the social connection, company and camaraderie until they can find somewhere to kit out with tools. Many Sheds get involved in community projects too – restoring village features, helping maintain parks and green spaces, and building things for schools, libraries and individuals in need. There is some anecdotal evidence that men typically find it more difficult to build social connections than women, and older men often lack networks of friends and rarely share concerns about health and personal worries. It is not the case for all men but for some, when retirement comes, it can feel like personal identity and purpose is lost. Men’s Sheds can change all of that.
Charlie Bethel, Chief Officer, UK Men’s Sheds Association, says:
“Sheds are about meeting like-minded people and having someone to share your worries with. They are about having fun, sharing skills and knowledge with likeminded people and gaining a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. As a by-product of all of that they reduce isolation and feelings of loneliness, they allow men to deal with mental health challenges more easily and remain independent, they rebuild communities and in many cases, they save men’s lives.”