Title: What is a Men’s Shed?

Men’s Sheds are like garden sheds – a place for men to follow their practical interests in their leisure time, to practice skills and handicrafts and to enjoy making and mending things. Whereas garden sheds at home and their activities are often solitary, Men’s Sheds are about building social connections and friendships, sharing skills and knowledge, and having fun.

What happens in Men’s Sheds?

Sheds can be whatever the men who use them want them to be. They often aren’t sheds at all but can be converted into empty offices, portacabins, disused warehouses, garages, or old shipping containers. They can also be purpose-built garden shed workshops. Many Men’s Sheds begin with the formation of a group that meets regularly for social reasons until they find a suitable location. The members often get involved in community projects like helping to maintain parks and building things for schools, libraries and community members in need. In Men’s Sheds, you can usually find activities such as woodwork, metalwork, restoration and repair work, electronics, car maintenance, and model making. The main focus of the Men’s Shed is not the building, but the camaraderie between the members.

How did they start?

The Men’s Shed concept first started in Australia in about 1999. From there the concept spread to New Zealand, Britain, Canada and then to Europe and the USA. Now there are thousands of Men’s Sheds worldwide. Men’s Sheds mainly develop in response to shared needs. These needs are often that men want to access tools and workbenches, and skill sharing with others of a like mind. Gardening, computing, electronics and other activities can of course find their place in Men’s Sheds depending on members’ interests. From time to time, an established organisation sets up a Men’s Shed as a part of its business, or for the recreation of its employees.

Why are Men’s Sheds needed?

Research clearly shows the negative impact of loneliness and isolation on health and well-being. These afflictions can be as negative for our health as obesity and smoking. Unfortunately, millions of people, especially in the developed world, admit to feeling lonely on a daily basis. Men’s Sheds can bring health benefits derived from physical and mental activity, through creativity, and skill sharing. They can help to improve well-being through social integration in local communities. Men can find it difficult to build social connections, and older men often do not have networks of friends and thus can find it difficult to share concerns about health and welfare. For some men, when retirement comes, it can herald a lost sense of purpose. Men’s Sheds can change all of that.

Men’s Sheds can help vulnerable or lonely men to meet other like-minded men and give them someone to share their worries with. Men’s Sheds are about fun, skill sharing and gaining a sense of purpose and belonging. They can help to reduce isolation and feelings of loneliness, they can help men to deal with mental health challenges and also remain independent, they can help to rebuild communities and in some cases, save men’s lives. Men’s Sheds are vital.

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