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Database: UK13

Created On Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:33 By José Jesús Delgado

ID Code (e. g. HU1):
Men in Sheds

Men in Sheds Cheshire
TYPE (SME, Company, Community Centre, Health Centre, Educational Centre, Foundation,
Municipality, governmental institution, etc):
Hartford - Unit 15, Hartford Business Park, 134 Chester Road, Hartford, CW8 2AB
E-MAIL: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  In this case, please indicate the territorial
scope of the organization:

Age range:
From: N/A to N/A years N/A
Older than: 50 years  
Gender: Males

4 - CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MIND FITNESS PROGRAM / SERVICE / ACTIVITY (NB: Should the program, service or activity be included into more than one category, please select the most representative category for that PSA. But, REMEMBER: THE PSA MUST BE SELECTED ONLY IN CASE THAT MENTAL FITNESS / MENTAL WELLBEING IS INCLUDED IN ITS GENERAL AIMS OR GOALS. IF NOT, YOU SHOULD NOT SELECT IT. The characteristics below are the means, not the goal)
Providing opportunities for physical activity and exercise, Enhancing community participation, Providing opportunities for creative activities
Other: N/A
(EXPECTED) DURATION OF THE Programme/Service/Activity: Not defined
Begin (Month/Year, e. g. 02/2012):N/A
End (Month/Year, e. g. 02/2012):N/A or Number of weeks:4 or 5 weeks x 2 hours
Number of units:N/A
Hours per unit:N/A

This movement began in Australia where, as in the UK there are large numbers of disengaged men not joining in community activities and frequently living alone (c.500,000 men over 50 live alone in the UK).

Whilst there are many different reasons for this they include that men have an expectation of being self-reliant and of meeting their own needs. It is also recognised that becoming workless can present particular challenges for men including loss of role, status, workmates, income etc which many find it hard to adapt to. Finding a way of working, alongside others and with a purpose in view but without imposed demands can be exactly what some men need.

The MensShed movement grew when the opportunities provided by better resources, informal learning and companionship in a Shed context were offered in ways that took men’s characteristics into account. There are now more than 800 Sheds in Australia with increasing numbers in New Zealand, Ireland, Canada and in the USA where they are called ‘men’s dens’. Members worldwide point in particular to the health and well-being benefits of men coming together.

Over 30 Sheds are now open in the UK, with others being planned. Five of these are in Northern Ireland with the first being where existing work was renamed in 2010. The Shed concept was first realised in England by Age Concern Cheshire at Hartford in 2009 with a further nine having been piloted by Age Concern and Age UK under their Men in Sheds Programme. They range from large staffed projects through small charities developing a service to Sheds developed from scratch by men who need them. Men coming together voluntarily in practical Shed-like contexts is not new but usually the work has had a single focus such as railway preservation societies, model engineering societies, woodcraft associations, community-based museums and charitable work such as renovating tools for African projects.

Men’s Sheds have the potential to be of great benefit to their participants but the idea is not yet well known.

A MensShed is a larger version of the typical man’s shed in the garden – a place where he feels at home and pursues practical interests with a high degree of autonomy. A MensShed offers this to a group of such men where members share the tools and resources they need to work on projects of their own choosing at their own pace and in a safe, friendly and inclusive venue. They are places of skill-sharing and informal learning, of individual pursuits and community projects, of purpose, achievement and social interaction. A place of leisure where men come together to work.

A Shed’s activities usually involve making or mending in wood (e.g. carpentry, joinery, turning, carving, whittling, marquetry, furniture renovation) and may include activities as varied as bike repair, gardening, vehicle repair, tool renovation, upholstery, boat renovation, model engineering, milling, turning in plastics, etc. Reclamation, reuse and restoration will feature strongly – and some say that is true of the men too!. Whichever activities are pursued the essence of a Shed is not a building, which some don’t have, but the network of relationships between the members.

a.- Which materials were used?
Tools, benches, facilities for working with wood and metal
b.- Who conducted the program / service activity? (What role, what qualifications, etc.)
Activities are facilitated by expertise from within the group passing on their acquired skills to instruct and advise others

7 - METHODOLOGY USED (presentations, pair work, group work, peers, mentors, blended
learning, e-learning, etc.)
Age Concern Cheshire set up its first Men in Sheds project in Hartford in January 2009 using short –term funding. They employed a Full Time Coordinator to get it going and rented a 1000 sq. ft factory unit in an industrial estate.

Sufficient tools were purchased for 6-10 men including various bench tools. Initial publicity went out in the press and was followed up with a public meeting in the town. In Oct 2010 they received £493,000 of Lottery money for further Sheds and this process was repeated in Crewe, Chester and Ellesmere Port.

All four sheds are open four days per week from Monday - Thursday 10am-4pm, with the exception of the Chester Shed, which is open from Tuesday – Friday, 10am-4pm with a paid coordinator in each supported by nominated volunteers.

An average of 170 men per week pass through the doors and together clock up over 30,000 man/hours in a year, including 5000 hours by the 11 volunteers. he sheds are open.

Age UK Cheshire, believe that every man needs a shed.

'A shed is to a man what a handbag is to a woman.'

Men in Sheds is a project started by Age UK Cheshire in the autumn of 2008 for older men who feel isolated or are experiencing major life changes.

Since then the project has grown significantly. It has recently been awarded a £500,000 grant from the National Lottery and gained national coverage on the BBC’s The One Show and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. The project is very simple and has one goal, to reach men over 55.

They aim to encourage a shed-like environment with a focus on socialising, sharing skills and learning new ones and of course, all of our activities are accompanied with lots of tea and biscuits!

A Men’s Shed is a dedicated, friendly and welcoming meeting place where men come together and undertake a variety of mutually agreed activities.

Men’s Sheds are open to all men regardless of age, background or ability. It is a place where you can share your skills and knowledge with others, learn new skills and develop your old skills.

New members are always welcome and can be assured that there is something of interest for everyone as the men have ownership of their Shed and projects and decide their own program of events.

An objective of Men’s Sheds is to enhance or maintain the well-being of the participating men.

Currently Sheds have developed from a range of starting points such as the piloting of Age UK’s programme, to adaptations to existing work to start-ups by groups who’d like their own.

Age UK currently has seven Sheds open across the UK. Their Men in Sheds projects have done older men a great service by realising the Shed concept in England and provide anyone else not only with advice and encouragement but with live examples that can make the information real. They have helped Sheds to be recognized as an innovative response to male isolation and a contributor to enhanced male health and have gained substantial funding (e.g. £495,000 in Cheshire, £93,000 in Nottingham) to pay for set up and running costs, including staff costs and overheads. One of further project closed (hopefully temporarily) when the Lottery funding ceased.

Other Sheds have started as a development of an existing work with men’s groups in Northern Ireland (South Armagh),as an extension of a charity’s work which involved selling furniture (Antrim), as a new project of the regeneration organization West Armagh Consortium ( Armagh City) and as an initiative of a retired civil servant and his friends (Holywood). Each of these have the ongoing support or the Irish Men’s Shed Association.

In the Isle of Man the Manx Shed was started by the Southern Community Initiative and in England an independent Shed was set up by two retired guys (Camden Town Shed) while the first Shed in Scotland, which has a lot of local support, should soon be ready to open.

The MensShed Network looks forward to a time when every community can offer its residents, and particularly its older male residents, easy access to a Shed. We believe that can happen for several reasons including that we are reaching a group that other services have not in any numbers; we engage older men in activities that are likely to save on health costs: and Sheds can often play a valued and visible role in their communities through providing practical services.

They believe public, trust and private funding will continue in particular for start-ups, but along with most local voluntary organizations Sheds will be expected to earn increasing proportions of their costs whilst not competing with commerce, to collect membership fees and daily dues and to undertake local fundraising such as raffles etc. Big factors in the sustainability of any local organization are the degree to which the members own it and run it, how well it is managed and how it connects with its community.

This diverse start described above is helpful in seeing how the movement might grow. Age UK will develop a wider programme. Tools for Self-Reliance, a charity which supports 58 tool renovation groups around the country will be encouraging their groups to move towards the Shed model. Further growth in Northern Ireland will be supported by the Irish Men’s Shed Association coordinator. Local charities will add a Shed to their services, and individuals will start their own with advice from this website, existing Sheds and hopefully, from within a UK Shed association yet to be formed.

An initiative which focuses on as specified need is growing but is dependent on sustainable resources. Although Mental fitness is only indirectly referred to in the awareness campaign, individuals and groups have identified ‘ keeping their mind active. ‘feeling involved and useful’ meeting and sharing with others like them’ and ‘ having to be alert to support othersin passing on what they know.

With regard to the application within MENTA this is a good example of how our aim to enhance mental fitness can be implicitly addressed in an innovative project such as this. At the same time its focus on older men is one we should seek to learn from in our own curriculum and materials development on order to ensure its accessibility.



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