Men in Sheds is a project first started in the UK by by Age UK Cheshire in the autumn of 2008 for older men who feel isolated or are experiencing major life changes. Research worldwide points in particular to the health and well-being benefits of men coming together.
Now there are over 80 Sheds open in the UK, with many others being planned. They vary from full-time projects with paid staff and occupying industrial premises to groups meeting in village halls and community centres for only a few hours a week. Some Sheds are in deeply rural locations, most are in small towns but considering their populations there are relatively few in large cities. There are Sheds that have been started by their users, by churches, by village development trusts, by large charities and by health authorities. Nearly a quarter have been started by Age UK affiliates. Sheds in Northern Ireland have been greatly helped by the Irish Men's Sheds Association. Aberdeenshire has employed its own Men's Shed development worker.
International development of men in sheds
This movement began in Australia when men realised they could come together around practical tasks on a regular basis, particularly if they had a designated place or workshop where tools and work in pogress could be stored. This appeals to men both living alone or with partners and at all ages although the vast majority of 'shedders' are at or beyond retirement date.
Many older men lose some sense of purpose with the loss of their work role, status, workmates, income etc and can find themselves disengaged from their community if the pub or sports is not their thing. The generality of community activities on offer do not appeal to men and with their own expectation of meeting their own needs then some level of social isolation can occur. Men with their own shed have often developed their skills and interests there but in a larger facility, with better or more equipment, with skills you can develop with others and jobs you can do for the community a Men's Shed offers something new. Finding a way of working, alongside others and with a purpose in view but without imposed demands can be exactly what many men need.
There are now more than 1000 Sheds in Australia, 180 in ireland and others in New Zealand and Canada with interest being expressed from South Korea and many other countries. Research worldwide points in particular to the health and well-being benefits of men coming together.