As part of Age Friendly Island Age UK IW runs a Men’s Shed project. Social isolation, loneliness and stressful social ties are common amongst older men and are associated with poor physical health, higher risk of disability, and poor recovery from illness.
Pottering around in the shed is one way that men can find relaxation in their day. The ‘Men’s Shed’ movement sprung up as a way to tackle social isolation in men, particularly after retirement, as well as providing an informal setting to talk about health issues. The idea is simple. Instead of men pottering about in their own shed, they get together and have a local shed where they can not only carry out activities alongside each other but learn new skills, support each other and be positively involved in their own community.
A communal ‘Shed’ is a relaxing way of spending time and doing odd jobs and practical tasks. On retirement, after active lives spent in work and the social contact that brings, older men can find it difficult to start new friendships. Generally, men do not want to sit around talking, and would much rather immerse themselves in a task.
By working in a shed alongside each other, older men can carry out a hobby, while also learning new skills and support each other. Older men use fewer community-based health services than women and are less likely to participate in preventative health activities. Sheds provide an engaging way to talk about and deal with health and other issues.
A ‘Shed’ can be just that, a shed at the bottom someone’s garden, or it can be an outbuilding, a beach hut, a garage, or any other space that can be utilised for practical purposes by a group. Men do not need to stay within the shed, day trips and outings can also be arranged, as well as guest speakers and participation in community events. Most importantly, the ‘Shed’ is not the building, but the people within it.
Age UK IW work with older men across the Isle of Wight to set up new sheds each year, there are currently 6 sheds: Totland, Newport, Shanklin, Brading, Sandown and an Acoustic Shed for music lovers.