What is a Men’s Shed?
Men’s Sheds (or 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, and of course a lot of laughter.
Sheds are whatever the members (or Shedders as we call them) want them to be. Although labelled sheds, they often aren’t sheds at all. They can be empty offices, portable cabin’s, warehouses, garages, and in at least one case, a disused mortuary. 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.
Activities in Sheds vary greatly, but you can usually find woodworking, metalworking, repairing and restoring, electronics, model buildings or even car building in a typical Shed. Sheds typically attract older men, but many have younger members and women too. Whatever the activity, the essence of a Shed is not a building, but the connections and relationships between its members.
Why are they needed?
For a long time research has shown the negative impact of loneliness and isolation on a person’s health and wellbeing. Recently we have seen more evidence come to light that shows loneliness and isolation can be as hazardous to our health as obesity and excessive smoking. Surveys from mental health charities are finding that millions of people report feeling lonely on a daily basis.
Men typically find it more difficult to build social connections than women, and unlike women of a similar age, less older men have networks of friends and rarely share personal 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.
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 like-minded 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.
Men’s Sheds are vital.
Who are Men's Sheds Association
We are UK Men’s Sheds Association, the support body for Men’s Sheds across the UK. We work hard to inspire and support the development of as many Men’s Sheds as possible, for the benefit of men’s health and wellbeing. We are a member organisation, representing UK-based Men’s Sheds. We raise awareness of the Men’s Sheds movement and the many benefits of Shedding and we support Men’s Sheds in getting off the ground and thriving as community-driven, member-led entities. We don’t own or manage Men’s Sheds, but we champion them for miles around.
Our mission is to enable access to a Men’s Shed for every man that would benefit from one and we won’t stop until we’ve achieved it.
What we do
We provide support and guidance to individuals and groups across the UK in starting and managing Men’s Sheds. We raise awareness of the social and health benefits of Men’s Sheds in reducing isolation, loneliness and in empowering local communities. We support the growth of Men’s Sheds by:
- Promoting the Men’s Sheds movement so as many people as possible know about them. We want Men’s Sheds to be a household name so that every man knows what they are and how to find one.
- Promoting individual Men’s Sheds to help put interested members of the community in touch with their nearest Men’s Shed. We do this by maintaining an up-to-date map of UK Sheds on our website, through social and print media and by forwarding enquiries to the relevant local Shed groups and attracting support for member Sheds.
- Providing advice and guidance on starting up and running a shed to help grow the number of UK Men’s Sheds. We do this by providing practical information guides, example documents and toolkits on topics such as registering as a charity, insurance, funding, sourcing equipment and venues, and volunteer recruitment. We provide telephone, email and in-person support to individuals and groups wanting to start a Men’s Shed. We equip them with the knowledge to develop and sustain a thriving Men’s Shed in their community for years to come.
- Training volunteer Ambassadors with experience of starting their own Men’s Sheds to mentor and guide like-minded individuals and groups in starting and managing Men’s Sheds across the UK.
- Holding networking events to connect men from different Men’s Sheds across the UK. Here they can share experiences, knowledge and skills, and make friends for life with others who share interests and a common purpose.
We raise awareness of Men’s Sheds and their many benefits by:
- Talking about the social and health benefits of Men’s Sheds in reducing isolation and empowering local communities. We do this through various communication channels, including public events, online and in the media.
- Representing our members and the UK Men’s Shed movement at a local, national and international level. We do this by liaising with organisations, government authorities, companies, other Men’s Shed associations and related charities, to help develop partnerships, generate funding opportunities and negotiate sponsorship deals to deliver real value to our Member Sheds.
History of Men's Sheds Association
We were originally founded in 2013 in response to a need for a central body to represent and raise awareness of a small, but growing number of Men’s Sheds. Back then there were just 30 Men’s Sheds in the UK. In 2015 we became a registered charity with a view to providing more formal support to the Men’s Shed movement. Fast forward to today and there are over 600 Men’s Sheds open and an additional 150 or more in planning at any one time. That’s around 13,000 or more Shedders, as we call them, benefiting from regular social interactions, new and improved skills, and regular, active participation in activities they enjoy. The rate of growth of Men’s Sheds is between six and nine a month.