The Men’s Shed Association goes from strength to strength with its 500th shed opening in the village of Blewbury, Oxfordshire.
Having first launched in the UK in 2013, Men’s Sheds have grown in popularity to become invaluable community spaces for people to connect, create and have fun.
They host similar activities to garden sheds – including woodwork, DIY and general making – but for the purpose of bringing groups of people together. Indeed the community ethos behind Men’s Sheds has been highly effective at reducing loneliness and social isolation in areas right across the country, including among the elderly and retired.
A survey of shed members by the UK Men’s Sheds Association, the support body for Men’s Sheds in the UK, found that 97% reported making new friends as a result of regular attendance at a Men’s Shed, while 89% reported a decrease in depression. The association also reports that the volunteering value of ‘shedders’ supporting the local community each year is an estimated £10.5m.
The opening of the 500th shed reflects the significant growth of the movement in the UK, which has seen the number of sheds increase by 66% in the last three years, having previously reached the 300 mark in May 2016.
The UK Men’s Sheds Association, reports that sheds now provide a welcoming social space for around 12,000 members right across the country, from Orkney of Scotland to St Austell in Cornwall, and all major cities in between.
BlewShed in Blewbury has become the 500th UK Men’s Shed after co-founder Mike Magnay was inspired to hear about the work of a Men’s Shed in Southampton while on holiday.
Mike, 74 and a retired electrical engineer, decided that he and other members of the community in Blewbury could benefit from such a space.
Having gauged interest from local people, he worked with the parish council to secure access to a former scouts’ hall which has now been converted into a shed complete with workbenches and tools donated by members of the community.
“When I heard about the Men’s Sheds movement I immediately thought it was a brilliant way of bringing people together around something creative and fun.
“Men aren’t always the best at making new friends or talking to one another, but get them around a piece of wood or a DIY task and it’s amazing how they to open up. We’ve had a great response to the new shed, with over 30 members already signed up.”
In addition to the opening of the 500th shed, the UK Men’s Sheds Association is excited to announce a new partnership with British woodcare specialist Ronseal.
The partnership includes sponsorship by Ronseal of a series of DIY skills sessions at The Manchester Men’s Shed in Moss Side, beginning this summer. The plan is to roll out the skills sessions to more sheds in future, helping to add further momentum to the already fast-growing Men’s Sheds movement.
Charlie Bethel, Chief Officer of UK Men’s Sheds Association, said:
“The opening of our 500th shed is a real cause for celebration. Since the Men’s Sheds movement began in the UK, we’ve seen sheds right across the country make a huge difference to the lives of their members and the communities they support. The new partnership with Ronseal is further evidence that the Men’s Sheds movement is going from strength to strength as we continue to bring in new partners and offer new skills and services through our sheds.”