Originally developed in Australia, this programme creates an opportunity for men of all ages to meet and make things together in a relaxed setting designed to feel like a shed.
‘Sheds’ around the country are equipped with woodwork tools and managed by volunteers who put on a range of activities, often around designing, recycling and making. The ‘sheds’ provide a space for men to meet up to use their existing skills, learn new skills or just put the world to rights over a cup of tea.
There are Men in Sheds projects around the country including some organised by Age UK, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, targeted at engaging older men who are often less connected in groups than women.
The model has been successful at connecting men who may not normally go to organised activities, as well as supporting older men who feel isolated or are going through major life changes such as bereavement.
For more information see: http://www.menssheds.org.uk
See also Tools Company
Tools Company gives older men with complex needs a chance to reconnect with meaningful, practical activity by reconditioning tools for sale or for charities in UK and Africa.
Volunteers from the existing Men in Sheds initiative in Exeter work alongside older men with complex needs (e.g. Parkinson’s, dementia, depression and anxiety, visual impairment, stroke sufferers etc) to recondition donated tools. Participants come to the shed, where in the company of other men (participants, buddies and staff) they are helped and supported to refurbish tools, forming friendships and sharing experiences like eating together. The refurbished tools are then sold or sent to Africa via another charity Tools For Self Reliance(TFSR).
The initiative was established by Age UK Exeter in 2012 following consultations with local older men, vulnerable adults and health and social care professionals in the areas. They identified the need for some older men to be given the opportunity to make friends and connect after retirement or illness, and a practical job like refurbishing tools seemed to fit the bill.