Social isolation is one of society’s most pertinent issues and for those who are single or widowed and particularly men who have retired or been made redundant this is a real problem.
Men are one of the hardest groups for healthcare services to reach, as many are reluctant users of traditional services such as GP’s and even pharmacies, and tend not to respond well to mainstream health awareness campaigns, often only going to visit their GP when 'nagged 'by their wives.
Men in Sheds is a project started by Age UK Cheshire in the autumn of 2008. It is based on an Australian project called Mens Sheds, which has expanded greatly over the last few years with around 1000 sheds now open. The idea spread to Ireland where over 200 sheds are now open and the project has even been credited with lowering their suicide figures.
Men in Sheds
Age UK Cheshire's Men in Sheds project currently has 4 sheds, in Hartford, Ellesmere Port, Crewe and Chester.
The ‘sheds’ are a euphemism for a club and is actually an industrial unit where men can meet to undertake a variety of activities such as woodworking, metalworking, art and computers - almost like a youth club for the over 50’s!
Amanda Hodgkinson, Men in Sheds Senior Coordinator, comments:
"What they all get from the 'sheds' is camaraderie and a place to go.
Some are using skills they’ve used all their lives, at work and at play. Some have never picked up a saw, power tool or operated a lathe.
It’s a chance to learn new skills - or just pop along for a brew and a chat! Men find it far easier to chat around doing something, and with other men than they do in more formal surroundings.
The guys have come together to form new friendships, men from all walks of life. They’ve even been known to meet outside of the shed socially."
Sheds have an important place in the local community by undertaking work for other charitable organisations, council groups and churches and even the elderly residents in the community.
There are now around 100 Sheds in the UK and many more at the planning stage following the initiative taken by Age UK Cheshire, helped by the formation of a UK Men’s Shed Association, offering help and support in setting up prospective new sheds.
Age UK Cheshire is currently looking at how the idea can be adapted to meet the needs of the veterans community offering a range of activities and services with other forces charities, in a friendly all inclusive environment.