Last week a national conference in Westhill, Aberdeenshire asked how services for older men such as Men’s Sheds might be developed in Scotland. Guest blogger – and ‘Shedder’ – Jason Schroeder reports back on the day.
I’m a ‘Shedder’ at Westhill Men’s Shed; the first in North East Scotland set out on the Australian Men’s Shed model. Of course there are many personal sheds in many gardens; but not like this. The main concept is to create social interaction by working shoulder to shoulder on a variety of creative projects initiated by the men of the Shed. Men who are primarily retired and have common interests, want to learn new skills, mentor others and be in men’s company come to the shed.
I found the conference, which was hosted by Westhill Men’s Shed, very well rounded in the topics discussed. Some participants had concerns about how to start a Shed and this panel discussion time proved very helpful. We had a wide variety of speakers looking at the many levels of how to support services for older men in our communities. These included; Westhill Men’s Shed Chair Marty Kehoe, Jeremy Watt from Aberdeen University, who looked at our understanding of men in contemporary society, and Dr Munoz from the University of the Highlands and Islands, speaking on the potential for Men’s Sheds to be social enterprises. We also heard a perspective on men’s mental health from Dr Ian Clark, and from Roger Jones from The Older Men’s Network.
I found it very interesting to hear that on all these levels the Men’s Shed concept is helping and will work in our type of culture. I have observed that not all concepts that work in one country will work in another.
The Shed, although aimed at retired men, is not restricted to them. I asked a participant at the conference after he had returned from his Shed visit, what where his thoughts. He is a local a man and in his professional capacity as a support worker he has taken some younger men to the shed over the last three months. He has witnessed that they have been able to feel extremely involved from day one and re-establish their confidence. This was because he felt the men in the Shed are enthusiastic, are willing to share their knowledge and learn from others. One is accepted very readily whether you are working on a motor, playing cards, building a bookshelf or just relaxing reading a good book. The different types of groups are steadily growing, as are the men using the shed.
I have been working on creating this Shed from the outset over the last three years. So to see now the level of interest and support which was at the conference really warms my heart and encourages me to continue supporting people to start their own Men’s sheds all over Scotland. Thanks to Age Scotland for supporting this brilliant effort to insure our communities are finding solutions for a brighter future.