National drive to get retired men back to work…in sheds

National drive to get retired men back to work…in sheds

Retired men, who are at risk of losing the companionship and sense of purpose regularly provided by work, are being encouraged to dust off their tool box and muck in at their local shed.

The release of the research marks the launch of a partnership between Royal Voluntary Service and UK’s Men’s Sheds Association to jointly support the development of Men’s Sheds across England.

Since the first shed opened in the UK 5 years ago, there are now 187 in the UK with two new sheds on average opening a week. The Men’s Shed Association follows a blueprint from an Australian project and is a place for men to come together and work on either individual or community projects.

man shed 2David McCullough, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service said:

“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. 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.”

I spoke to Keith Pearshouse who is a keen “shedder” in Camden and a retired Headmaster who moved to London for family reasons.  Finding himself with time on his hands and a desire to return to a previous hobby of woodworking he heard about the men’s shed in Camden.  After going along and meeting some of the men in the shed he found them so friendly and welcoming that he now goes twice a week and has made some furniture and toys and is being taught the art of wood turning by another member.

The Camden shed is home to about 7 to 8 members who go regularly and in the large space available to them they have benches and lathes with a wide store of hand tools that can be used.  There are also electronic tools such as a band saw which some of the men have previously used in their working life and are able to give help and training to others.

There is a leader who is responsible for health and safety, as well as two other trained helpers who make sure all the tools are used appropriately.  Because they are a group they can bulk buy necessary equipment such as wood and sandpaper, to give anyone who wants to have a go access to materials.

Everyone pays, or not, for each session dependant on what they can afford and other funding is raised by selling their work.  Funding is different for each shed but the premise is the same:  to provide a space where men can go and socialise, learn new skills or pass on their knowledge to others.

Keith admits that men seem to find it harder to communicate and having somewhere to go where there is a common purpose has helped him in retirement. “ After retiring from a high profile job I felt I had lost status but the shed provides a place for retired and redundant men to feel worthwhile again.”

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.

To find our more go to Phone: 07757024749 (Mike Jenn), email