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Men in Sheds

The fast-growing ‘Men in Sheds’ movement is helping combat loneliness and isolation among blokes of a certain age. Our #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek coverage continues as Graham Sherwood goes inside a busy ‘shed’

IT USUALLY starts off as a bit of a joke. “Where’s your dad?” “In his shed, of course.”

The much-pummelled stereotype of the henpecked husband taking refuge in his shed – often fitted out with an easy chair, transistor radio and flask of tea – is as old as the hills.

A man shed, to the untrained but critical eye, often appears to be a chaotic cornucopia of myriad tools, old machinery, broken appliances, offcuts of wood and metal, and innumerable packets of nuts, screws, bolts and nails that will all become essential some day.

Set among this is the workbench, where the magic really happens. However, there is a serious side to the man in a shed. Whether he’s temporarily escaping from the wrath of a curmudgeonly wife or merely whiling away the long days of retirement, possibly even as a widower, it is in the main a lonely existence.

After all, there are only so many go-karts, soap boxes, dolls’ houses and rocking horses that need making and, as the once-needy young grandchildren blossom into spotty technology-driven teenagers who don’t seem to visit so much anymore, enthusiasm can often seep away.

As with the inspection, discovery and action required to sort out the many health problems that beset the older generation, women are usually more adept than men at dealing with the concepts of loneliness and living as a singleton. So all hail the ‘Men in Sheds’ – an embryonic scheme that is beginning to catch fire around the country, where in conjunction with local authorities, older-generation charity organisations and health services, premises are being funded to provide a more gregarious alternative to spending time home alone in your shed.

Although in the UK it is a relatively new phenomenon (the Shed concept was first started in England by Age Concern Cheshire in 2009) in Australia – where the idea has been going for more than seven years – it is thoroughly embedded, and now boasts more than 1000 sheds. Just three years ago there were a mere handful of British sheds; now there are now more than 60 groups in regular operation throughout the country.

So what goes on in a shed?  To find out and continue reading, click here

Have you got a "man shed"? Do you think this is helping the mental health of over 50s men? 

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