What is a Men’s Shed?
Originating in Australia, the first ‘Men Sheds’ were setup in the 1990s as a way of connecting rural men – initially farmers, miners, and veterans – as a way of targeting social isolation and depression. There are now nearly 1,000 registered Sheds in Australia, and the movement has seen explosive growth across the globe. In the UK there are over 500 registered sheds: Scotland has at least one Shed in every local authority – 106 are open, with 58 currently in development!
The basic idea of a Men’s Shed is to provide a larger, communal version of the garden shed. A safe, friendly, and welcoming place for men to get together to work on a wide range of meaningful projects, while contributing to the wider community.
Why do men need a shed?
Men have worse health outcomes across all age groups than women in most Western countries; they have a lower life expectancy, higher mortality rates, and are more likely to engage in risky behaviours. Men are more likely to be lonely and isolated, which recent studies have shown carry comparable health risks as obesity or excess smoking. Some retired men may also feel like their identity and purpose have been lost.
Men find it more difficult to build and maintain social connections than women, and they’re less likely to share health or personal concerns with their smaller networks of friends. “Real Men don’t talk about their feelings and emotions” – which means that they are less likely to look after their health & well-being. Who doesn’t know a man that’s too stubborn to ask for help!?
Men’s Sheds adopt a ‘health by stealth’ approach. Men don’t talk face to face; but are more likely to open up ‘shoulder to shoulder’ while working with their peers. Beyond the social aspects, Sheds also focus on providing talks and information on the major health risk factors for men, primarily: prostate health, heart health, strokes, suicide, bereavement, healthy eating and cooking.
What are the benefits of a Men’s Shed?
“Men’s Sheds give purpose to men who are seeking it, and give back to the community at the same time.”
A year-long study of the Westhill Men’s shed found here to be a multitude of benefits directly attributed to outcomes of their Men’s Shed.
‘Shedders’ (Men who attend the shed): a reduction in social isolation through increased integration. Experiencing a sense of belonging, and a renewed sense of purpose, derived from spending time with friends conducting enjoyable and challenging group activities.
Partners and Families: reported improvements in the quality of their relationships, through increased personal time while their partner was at the shed – and increasing harmony within their household. Such ‘personal time’ has been recognised as crucial, especially in retired men.
The Community: the community and local charities benefit from project work performed by the Shedders; in particular those who would not normally be able to find or afford skills and experience at low costs, or even free. For many Shedders, the Shed also acts as their point of entry into the wider community.
Community Planning Partners: the increase in social engagement reduced the risk of social isolation. Shedders are less likely to require treatment for conditions associated with isolation. The increase in mental well-being could also lead to a reduction in GP visits, prescribed medication and social work support.
What activities will be available?
Initially, the Midmar Men’s Shed will focus on the ‘tried-and-tested’ activities that make up the core of established sheds.
In the medium and longer term; the aim is for the shed to be a community hub for a wide variety of membership-driven suggested groups and activities.
2 Stroke Engine & Garden Equipment Maintenance
Bike Maintenance & Repair
Recycling / Fixing Equipment & Appliances
Renewable Energy Projects
What can you do?
“Men’s Sheds are not just fixing furniture and building toys, they are helping men and building communities.”
It takes a whole community to make a shed successful! Through Spring and Summer 2020 the Midmar Men’s Shed commissioned a temporary ‘Shed’ next to the Midmar Hall. This is always being updated, so if you have any skills, time, materials, or interest in helping – please get in touch.
You can also help by talking to others about us and spreading the word. You could also encourage your partner, father, son, grandfather, neighbours, or friends to become a Shedder!