Your organisation may start off with a small group of starting members from your community who all share an enthusiasm for setting up a local Men’s Shed. You may have located a suitable venue and secured a small pot of money to get things started, however, you now need regular members.
Here are some useful steps to get started:
- Hold a public meeting in your area and invite people from across the community, such as other community groups, local authorities, friends and family. You could advertise the meeting in areas where men congregate in your community (e.g. bowls club, pub, bookies). Similarly, it can be very effective to place leaflets and posters in areas where women visit (i.e. hairdressing salons), as it is often wives and partners of men who will bring them along or encourage them. In this meeting you can spread the word about your plans and gage people’s interest in joining.
- Contact your local newspaper and see if you can get a small advertisement or even a full page article about your Shed plans.
- Create leaflets to be handed out in your community and placed in local venues (e.g. GP surgeries, supermarkets, community centres). This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, a small print-out will do as long as it looks catchy and has your contact details on it.
- Set up a social media account that includes your contact details and some photos (e.g. Facebook or Twitter). This is also a good way to link up with other local community webpages and advertise your Shed online.
- Set up a table or stand at a local venue (e.g. supermarket, community centre) where you can chat face to face with people from your community about your Shed plans and gather contact details of potential members.
- Register your details on a national Shed association webpage- These websites often have a map where people who have heard about Men’s Sheds can locate their closest organisation. Shed associations may also provide opportunities to advertise your shed in their newsletter or through their mail-outs.
- Market your Shed to family members such as wives of potential members. Family members are often a good source of encouragement for men thinking of joining a Shed and might provide that extra gentle push. Again, places like hairdressing salons, supermarket noticeboards and local cafes can be great places to reach this audience.
You may collect a lot of contact details for potential members but this does not translate into people coming through the door, or people show up to visit your Shed and decide it’s not for them. Be patient, these things can take time, and don’t forget that your shed doesn’t have to be busy to be successful, sometimes it’s about quality over quantity. On the other hand, you may prefer to remain small; your Shed doesn’t have to continually grow and expand, again, it’s up to you what works.
It is important to consider some barriers that may prevent men from attending your Shed, and how to overcome them:
- Taking part: Some men might not be interested in socialising, taking part in group activities or making new friends. They might simply want to use the Shed equipment to do their own projects. Therefore, make sure you make clear that the Shed is not solely for socialising. Often the socialising comes later as a product of taking part in activities.
- Communication/language barriers: There may be potential members who have communication barriers, such as not speaking English, or have hearing limitations. Therefore, consider ways to improve communication within your Shed. For example, turning down music for those hard of hearing, or providing translated signage in other languages. You can also contact your national voluntary organisation support webpages listed in the resources section at the back of the toolkit for more support.
- Confidence: It can often be difficult for men to pluck up the courage to walk through the door. Especially those who may have physical or mental health issues. Always make sure to welcome new members in a friendly manner. It can also be useful to introduce a buddy-system where a designated Shedder accompanies new members on their first days at the Shed. Ask them what their interests are, get them a cup of tea and introduce them to other members.