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Planning Retirement Online

Men and their Sheds!

The Royal Voluntary Service has just announced the launch of a partnership with the UK’s Men’s Sheds Association to jointly support the development of new Sheds across England.

Here at LaterLife, until we received a press release from the Royal Voluntary Service on this, we were unaware of the Men’s Sheds organization. What a brilliant idea!

It seems the movement began in Australia when men realized the benefits of providing a central space where men could undertake practical jobs on a regular basis and also meet other men with similar interests.

The concept was quickly taken up mainly by men who had retired. It is well recorded that older men can lose some sense of purpose with the loss of their work role, status, workmates and income and can find themselves disengaged from their community, especially if sport or pubs are not really their thing.

Men after retirement often have the time to start new practical hobbies but don’t have the space.

Men’s sheds sorts all this out – offering local space where men can pursue their practical craft in the company of other men; share tools, expertise and also chat. They can store their tools and work in progress in the Shed; a real plus for people whose homes don’t lend themselves to storing tools and equipment.

The idea quickly grew in Australia (there are now nearly 1000 Sheds across the country there) and in 2009 the first UK Shed was opened by Age Concern Cheshire. Now there are over 180 Sheds in the UK and more than 70 currently being developed.

They vary from full-time projects in substantial 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.

A Shed’s activities usually involve making or mending in wood (e.g. carpentry, joinery, turning, carving, whittling, marquetry, furniture renovation) but may include metalworking (milling, sheet metal, welding, etc.) bike repair, gardening, electronics, tool renovation, boat renovation, model engineering (model railways, planes) and even building a car! Reclamation, reuse and restoration also feature strongly.

David McCullough, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service, explains that men are often one of the most difficult groups to reach as many are reluctant to take part in the traditional services provided by charities or health care professionals.

“Through our existing services we have already seen the positive results of men sharing skills and the sense of belonging and purpose it can bring,” he said. “I’m delighted that we have partnered with the UK Men’s Sheds Association to help empower more men to join or start their own shed.”

The Royal Voluntary Service said that research shows that engaging in hobbies has numerous health benefits – physical as well as mental. More than half (57 per cent) of men and women over the age of 65 believe continuing to partake in their hobby has helped them stay mentally active, and 36 per cent said it was responsible for ensuring they stay physically active. As well as benefiting general wellbeing, research shows that hobbies are potentially a great way of combating loneliness in older people with 16 per cent agreeing that their skill allows them to interact with others.

Mike Jenn, Chair of UK Men’s Sheds Association, said:

“The Shed provides a place for men to make things and to have conversations. There is a real sense of pride as products are created from scratch and from recycled materials. Many of the men are more active than they’ve ever been, are talking more and have more friends.
“Partnering with the Royal Voluntary Service will support the growth of Sheds and will bring a better quality of life to many more men, their families and their communities.”

You can find out where your nearest Shed is to join, or how to start up one in your own community, by visiting:

Why no visit the Royal Voluntary Service website.

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