“A shed is to a man what a handbag is to a woman – both contain all the essentials for surviving in the modern world.”
Why men, and why in sheds?
Age UK Oldham’s Men in Sheds project is an initiative funded by the Local Authority and aims to reduce isolation among men over 55. The project has a distinct community development philosophy and positively impacts the health & wellbeing of men who have become socially isolated due to life changing circumstances or long term or acute health conditions.
According to research for Age UK, more than one million older men now live alone in the UK, and this number is only set to rise. Many of these older men have faced issues associated with significant changes in their lives including ageing, health, retirement, isolation, redundancy, unemployment, disability, bereavement, etc.
The ‘Men in Sheds’ project provides friendship and a sense of belonging through positive and therapeutic informal activities and experiences with other men. They achieve positive health, happiness and well-being outcomes not only for the older men who participate but also their families, friends and communities.
At present we have two sheds:
- Charles House, Albert Street West, Failsworth M35 0SJ
- Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday 9:00am - 4:00pm
- Tanners Waterside Mill, Chew Valley Road, Greenfield, Oldham OL3 7NH
- Thursday & Friday 9:00am - 4:00pm
A concept originally developed in Australia, Men in Sheds involves providing a workshop (shed), tools and equipment to men in later life. They can use existing skills, learn new ones and get involved in productive activity, while enjoying the benefits of working in a social group.
Men can get together in the 'sheds' to bang nails, shape wood, tinker with engines and put the world to rights over a cup of tea.
The project also provides an opportunity for men in later life to access information, advice and other services which they might not otherwise seek out.
It's a myth that men are not interested in their health or health services. However, they have to be presented in the right way as previously men have been difficult to engage through the more conventional methods. We have to find creative solutions to these problems. Just doing the old stuff isn't working. We have to go where men are or create activities that appeal to them. After active lives spent in work, most did not want to "sit around talking". Women talk to each other; men like to talk while immersing themselves in a task. That's the way they deal with emotional and practical issues. They are happier talking shoulder to shoulder, doing a job, than face to face. In that environment men will talk about all sorts of things. They know what a shed means and they feel comfortable in that setting.
Our Men in Sheds projects have a distinct community development philosophy and positively impact the health and wellbeing of men who attend.
The aim of the project is for men over the age of 50 who have become socially isolated due to life changing circumstances or long term or acute health conditions. Men particularly over 60, tend to be slower at going to the doctors for problems that might to be turn out to be serious and in many instances early detection would have. Although there is a great emphasis on the social benefits of men experiencing retirement and social isolation the shed aim is to promote health activities and lifestyle changes. Research shows that men who are socially connected take better care of their own health, leading to healthier lifestyles and seeking help from health care professionals. We continue to highlight to funders that not all men will be ready for discharged after 6 months. Therefore the length of stay has been increased for some men. Although for some men who have lost confidence and become socially isolated we have been able to find them other opportunities. It is clear a place in the Sheds is an alternative to the traditional services and fills in a missing preventative element for men of an early age.
Our staff work hard to address individual need and capabilities, always thinking ‘outside the box’ for men with varying levels of capabilities.
Outside of the shed men are organising social group activities to places of interest This is proving popular and therapeutic. We have some great links with schools, community projects and council schemes. We have recently been allocated a large allotment in Failsworth that will be open for men who no longer need close supervision and will be a facility for other projects addressing long term conditions.
We are getting men in one place to improve their wellbeing, engage in activities they enjoy to help them relax and to encourage them to come regularly by being involved in activites such as:
- Refurbish furniture
- Framing pictures / photographs
- Wooden toy making
- Making bird tables and window boxes
- Assembling hanging baskets / tubs etc
Being involved in our Men in Sheds project:
- Ensures older men are having fun and keeping well
- Gives structure and purpose to participant’s daily routine
- Teaches new skills
- Improves long term employment prospects
- Establishes new friendships / renew past friendships
- Improves physical, emotional and mental wellbeing
- Increases opportunities available to contribute and participate in the local communities
- Enables older men to access services and benefits which support independent living
- Provides access to ensure that older men claim and receive the financial benefits they are entitled to which will in turn improve their health / wellbeing
- Improves confidence and self-worth and increase job satisfaction
- Provides respite for carers as appropriate
- Reduces social isolation and resultant poor health
If you or someone you know would like to take part in our Men in Sheds project, you can contact Dave Freear, Project Coordinator on the details below.
Referrals will be considered from men who are over the age of 55 and who have undergone life changing experiences such as redundancy, loss of a partner, early dementia, mental health problems, lack of confidence etc.
Dave Freear - Men in Sheds Coordinator
Phone: 0161 682 4747