Beverley Men in Sheds was set up to help alleviate loneliness and isolation in the community. It welcomes both men and women as members and they can come along to make friends, chat, have a cup of tea and a biscuit and enjoy their hobbies. We currently undertake such activities such as woodturning, carpentry, furniture repair and restoration, bicycle repair and model-making. We hope to be able to expand into photography and art classes in the not too distant future. Members are under no obligation to undertake any hobbies and they can simply come along for a drink and a chat with others. As a measure of our success so far, one member has admitted at a members' meeting that the Shed saved his life, due to the mental pressures he was under prior to the Shed opening. The mental and physical health and safety of members is of paramount importance to the Shed trustees and we are always looking for ways to improve this as a matter of urgency.
Men in Sheds was set up and imported to the UK from Australia in 2013. There are now over 600 fully active Sheds across the UK, with approximately another 150 in development. It is thought that these Sheds have in excess of 13,000 members benefiting from regular social interactions, new and improved skills, and regular, active participation in activities they enjoy. The rate of growth of Men’s Sheds is between six and nine a month. For a long time research has shown the negative impact of loneliness and isolation on a person’s health and wellbeing. Recently we have seen more evidence come to light that shows loneliness and isolation can be as hazardous to our health as obesity and excessive smoking. Surveys from mental health charities are finding that millions of people report feeling lonely on a daily basis.
Men typically find it more difficult to build social connections than women, and unlike women of a similar age, less older men have networks of friends and rarely share personal concerns about health and personal worries. It is not the case for all men, but for some, when retirement comes, it can feel like personal identity and purpose is lost. Men’s Sheds can change all of that.
Sheds are about meeting like-minded people and having someone to share your worries with. They are about having fun, sharing skills and knowledge with like-minded people and gaining a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. As a by-product of all of that they reduce isolation and feelings of loneliness, they allow men to deal with mental health challenges more easily and remain independent, they rebuild communities and in many cases, they save men’s lives.
Men’s Sheds are vital.
Initial meetings to investigate interest in a Shed in Beverley were arranged by Humber & Wolds Rural Community Council and held in the autumn of 2018. Initially attended by a regular group of 10-15 prospective members, it was agreed to proceed to setting up a Shed. It was not until mid-2019 that a site was secured and work commenced in setting up the Shed. Six months later, thanks to kind donations of time, labour, equipment and imagination, we were up and running as a fully functional Shed by the end of the year with 25 members. This number has now grown to 31.
At the end of January 2020, we received a visit from our local MP, Graham Stuart. A great supporter of the Shed movement, he said "I had a great time whiling away the afternoon at Beverley Men in Sheds. It was great to see what kinds of things the members there are getting involved in, although I did feel a tad out of my depth when it came to some of the woodwork projects.
“In essence, retired men and women can turn up on their own and be assured of a warm welcome, and I’d really recommend coming along if you fancy meeting new people while learning new skills at the same time.
“A membership here costs just £10 a month – it’d be fantastic if more people could pop along as it would help keep this group going.”
So having done the majority of the hard work, although there is always room for improvement, we were able to start some projects. Then Covid-19 hit. The Trustees took the sensible course to close the Shed in mid-March and everything came to a standstill. Some members were able to continue there hobbies at home, but many did not have the room or equipment. Throughout the lockdown we kept in touch with members on a regular basis by telephone and e-mail and some even braved Zoom.
When lockdown restrictions were eased, a working party was set up to completely redesign the Shed so that we could accommodate social distancing rules. The Shed has now been divided into 4 distinct areas: Kitchen, Timber Storage, Machinery and a Finishing/Clean Hobby area. Whilst this has led to a more logical layout of the Shed, it has necessitated us to address several issues.
The redesign has left us with a problem of electrical sockets being in short supply and in the wrong place. As a result, it has required the use of extension leads to allow the use of some machinery and hand hand power tools. This is not good practice, nor safe as the leads are a potential trip hazard. To alleviate this problem, we feel it necessary to expand the number of electric sockets and to improve their position so that there is a more even distribution throughout the Shed.
By designating a specific area to the woodworking machinery we have kept the sawdust confined to that area, but have created a problem with regards to the smaller particles released into the atmosphere. Having spoken with a Technical Specialist from Axminster Tools, he has suggested that we actually wall off that area and install an air filter. This will vastly reduce the spread of potentially harmful dust to other areas of the shed and help protect all members of the Shed. The air filter would be hung from the ceiling and works by remote control. The machine can be set to run for a specified number of hours after machinery has stopped being used, thus leading to a cleaner atmosphere.
These improvements to the Shed would greatly reduce various potential hazards to the members. The average age of the members at Beverley Men in Sheds is well in excess of 70 and the majority have underlying health conditions. The health of our members is of paramount importance to the Trustees of the Shed. By removing any possible trip hazards from extensions leads and producing a cleaner atmosphere will be able to allow our members to attend the in safety. The units will benefit not only current members but those of the future. These units will assist the Shed to keep the Shed clean and air quality within the Shed good. In addition it will make compliance to COVID cleaning guidelines easier. For those who have health conditions that are made worse by poor air quality, this will significantly improve the Shed experience for them and the general membership.
Evaluation of the success of this project will be measured in several ways. Simple observation of the cleanliness of the Shed may be the most obvious. A simple reduction in surface dust throughout the Shed will be easily recognisable. We can also ask members on video for their thoughts on the improved air quality and general cleanliness. We could also ask members via a questionnaire for their opinions on the improvements.
Reg Number: 06455490 | Charity Number: 1125856