What are Men’s Sheds exactly?

‘Men’s Sheds’ are social groups set up in local communities for the benefit of men. They are self-governed, self- supported and sustainable with a small committee; their own individual constitution, their own income and their own premises.

Each individual shed is unique and the activities that take place depend entirely on the skills and interests of the men.

You’d be forgiven for thinking a men’s shed is all about making things out of wood, there is also a huge array of other activities on offer. Shedders are artists, collectors, story-tellers, amateur radio enthusiasts, train spotters, model makers…..Anyone is welcome and any interest, skill or project is given equal consideration – especially if it could attract new members or gain valuable income to support the development of the entire group.

How did Men’s Sheds start?

The idea originated in Australia in the early 2000’s and was developed by the health board to tackle growing concerns of social isolation amongst their male population. They identified that high numbers of men had time on their hands (due to retirement, unemployment, illness etc) and these things often manifested themselves in boredom, men suffering in silence with declining mental health and in the worst cases suicide .While various groups and charities do exist to support men, it has been proven that they are less likely to access and accept support. The Men’s Sheds movement is based on the understanding that men are more likely to help themselves and attend something they have set up or have some control over. While they might struggle to talk face to face, men do talk shoulder to shoulder when engaged in some form of activity or shared task.

No two (Men’s) sheds are the same, they are as individual and diverse as the original back garden shed. A place were men can escape from everyday stresses of life, to escape to and pursue their interests. Storytellers, crafters, making music, amateur radio enthusiasts can al be accommodated; But crucially it’s a place where loneliness and isolation are addressed in a friendly environment and where men can chat and enjoy each others company.

Huw Irranca-Davies SM, from “statement on Men’s Sheds Cymru’’ at Senedd Plenary session.