A new Men’s Shed for Broughty Ferry!

Our vision is of a Scotland where everyone can love later life. We’re delighted to have been able to offer community development support to men’s sheds over the last four years. Another Men’s Shed recently open their doors to the communtity for the first time.


More than 50 people attended the Grand Opening of Broughty Ferry Men’s Shed on Saturday 14 October. The shed will bring older men together to work on practical projects, socialise and share skills.

The YMCA gave the group the use of a derelict hut in its Brook Street grounds, and helped them secure funding from the MOD Fund for wood and metal working tools and equipment. Volunteers have utterly transformed the building, installing heating, windows, doors, and a kitchen and creating a workshop space and IT area.


Age Scotland were delighted to support the project aslongside Rosendael Veterans Association. The shed also received donations from local organisations, businesses and individuals.

Broughty Ferry Men’s Shed is part of a growing movement of “shedders” throughout Scotland. The first Men’s Shed was set up in Aberdeenshire in 2013 and there are now more than 100 nationwide!

Alex Harvey, a retired engineer and chairman of the shed, said: “We want to deal with isolation and bring people into the community. This can particularly affect people who have been bereaved, retired, or made redundant.

“We hope that older people will come along and find some purpose in what we’re doing.  Many people are interested in learning a bit more about DIY, and you can learn something new at any age.”


The shed meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 9.30am to 3.30pm. They ask only donations from attendees, and it is fully accessible to people with disabilities.

Age Scotland’s recent report, The Shed Effect, highlighted the impact these sheds have on improving health and wellbeing, and tackling social isolation among older men.

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Keith Robson, Age Scotland’s Charity Director, said: “The hard work and enthusiasm that has gone into this project is truly inspiring, and we’d like to wish them every success. We hope the shed will provide a welcoming space for people to come together, share skills, or just have a blether.

“We know from talking to shedders around the country how much they can improve health and well-being and help tackle loneliness and social isolation. I’d encourage everyone to come along, have a cup of tea, and see what the shed has to offer.”


To find out more about Men’s Sheds, contact the Age Scotland community development team on 0333 32 32 400.

Community connecting: tackling social isolation head on

Age Scotland has managed a helpline for many years providing information and advice across a wide spectrum of topics. Last year we were lucky enough to be given funding by the Scottish Government to kick-start a Scotland wide, phone based community connecting service.


The helpline often receives calls from older people feeling isolated or lonely and the community connecting service aims to tackle this head on. Callers can be referred to the service – which just involves them leaving a few details with an adviser. They are then contacted by one of the community connecting volunteers for a longer chat, to find about their interests, what sort of opportunity they might be looking for and any barriers that they might have to getting out and about (for example any mobility issues or difficulties accessing public transport). The volunteer can then get stuck into finding out what is available in the caller’s local area. We’ve been asked to help find all sorts of different opportunities from Men’s Sheds to IT classes, exercise to befriending. In many local authority areas there are specific community connecting projects delivered either by phone or face to face and where this is helpful for the person we will suggest they contact them for local expert knowledge.comcon.png

The Age Scotland helpline is very fortunate to have a team of exceptional and dedicated volunteers and several of them are involved in this new service with new volunteers being recruited to join them. One of our volunteers, Janice explains more about what she does:

“As a volunteer, I have been involved with Age Scotland’s community connecting service since it started a few months ago and am thoroughly enjoying being part of it.  The people I speak to have, for one reason or another, found themselves cut off from the community they live in and are unsure about how to make the first move to become more involved and less isolated.

After having an initial chat about the sorts of things they’re looking for, I try to find some local groups or organisations they might enjoy being part of. (My knowledge of the geography of Scotland is growing by the week!)

As I have been finding out, there is a lot going on out there.  The difficulty for the people who contact us is knowing where to look and, at times, having the confidence to take that first step.  That’s where we step in.  After giving each client some pointers, or even passing on their details to a chosen group, we follow up by making regular calls every 2 or 3 weeks for a couple of months to see how things are progressing, or as one client said, ‘to keep me on track’.

A relationship starts to build between you and the client and it is hugely satisfying when you know that you have got to the point where you can cut your ties because they are on their way. They have reconnected!”

We’ve had some lovely feedback from users about how useful the service has been to them and complementing our volunteers:

‘He’s been absolutely lovely…and I’ve found it helpful talking to him’.

This makes us even more keen to make sure that we can continue growing the service and helping even more people.

To allow this to happen we’ll need even more volunteers – that’s where you might come in!

If you think that you’d like to help people get back out and about in their community please get in touch with our team on 0333 32 32 400 or volunteering@agescotland.org.uk. You can also find out about all of the other ways you can get involved as a volunteer on the Age Scotland website.

 

 

 

Living active, living well

Jim Ferguson’s life was completely changed when he became more active. He met with our Chief Executive Brian Sloan to spread the word about how getting active can improve your quality of life, even for those living with a chronic condition. 


DSC_0598Jim is a former local councillor who volunteers with a number of groups affiliated with Age Scotland and has given regular, valued help to our Community Development team. Jim was referred to a physiotherapist by his GP after being diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. When he was a young boy he had contracted pneumonia and this left an infection in his lungs. As he turned 30 medics removed lobes within his lungs and now, at 75, he is living with the long term consequences of this.

After a few weeks of physio, Jim was asked if he’d like to be ‘prescribed’ a regular exercise class that would give him the support he needed to help his breathing moving forward. Jim jumped at the chance and was referred to Live Active Leisure in Perth.

Jim began his regular Referral Classes and a simple 12 week programme followed that is designed to help inactive adults with any of the following: depression or other mental health issues, weight problems, high blood pressure, muscular / skeletal conditions, neurological conditions and pulmonary conditions – including COPD, like Jim.

“I was sent to Live Active Letham and started the classes with young Marcin – he’s a great guy! I really did get a lot of encouragement and I feel I was pushed just a little bit more every time. It was a huge benefit being part of a class that worked to my level but that was small enough for us all to get the attention we needed to move us on.

“When you can’t breathe you’re restricted in lots of things; it’s that simple. As you get older you have less physical strength and finding a way to start things off at a suitable ability level and work from there is a great thing. It’s made a huge difference to my quality of life and that means it’s also a very good thing for my mental health. “I’m passionate that people keep mobile and as fit as they can at all ages. It’s about mind and body – you have to keep it all going!”


If you want to know more about get fit options in your area, call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90. If you live in Perth and want to get active, visit www.liveactive.co.uk.

Mental Health and Older People

Today is World Mental Health Day – a day the world celebrates mental health education, awareness and advocacy. Guest blogger Karyn Davie, Age Scotland’s Health & Benefits Project Worker, shares her findings from recent group discussions on mental health and older people, and the barriers to people seeking help.


Earlier this year I met with some of Age Scotland’s member groups to talk about mental health and wellbeing; access to treatments, and their own personal experiences.

It was clear that self-stigma remains a strong barrier to people in older age seeking help to mental health issues, with individuals being concerned about being judged by others.

‘My neighbours didn’t know why I was in hospital- it would be different if it was a heart attack or something, they would stop me in the street and ask if I was ok- but they would look strange and think I was a ‘loony’ who had been in a ‘loony ward’. I couldn’t cope with that’.Man_Garden_006

Another common theme that was discussed by the groups was loss of social networks and the effect this has on self-esteem, and sense of social standing. One gentleman told me: “I have been to four funerals already this year- that’s my social life! I worry there’ll be no one left to come to mine”.

Other Common Losses discussed were:

  • The impact of retirement, and the loss of structure to the day
  • Moving home; close friends or family moving away;
  • Living on reduced income
  • Not being able to take part in activities enjoyed for many years because of difficulties getting there, health problems or hearing/sight problems that affect them
  • Sense of vulnerability due to sudden health changes i.e. stroke or heart attack

All of these losses were discussed as having a significant impact on the person’s self-esteem, with many people advising that they made them feel isolated and lonely.

While visiting the Mood Project in West Lothian, the Men’s Group were very honest and open about issues for them. They made the following observations:

  • Men don’t generally pick up leaflets to seek advice unless; directly given to them by a health professional; forced to by a partner; or it says ‘free’ on the cover!
  • Men tend to talk about ‘problems’ rather than emotions.
  • They would rather be actively ‘doing things’ rather than talking i.e. walking groups, outings, men’s sheds.
  • Mental health problems affect their sense of masculinity- they should be the strong one; the protector and provider and this is challenged by feelings of being ‘weak’.

Many people I spoke to that described physical symptoms such as heart palpitations and headaches that don’t go away were unaware that the way they felt could be due to their mental health. They also preferred to use terms like ‘funny turns’ rather than panic attacks.

Much of the terminology used in modern day mental health services such as ‘mental resilience’ or ‘coping strategies’ was unrecognised, and had a very negative impact. There was also very little awareness or understanding of treatment options such as psychological therapies, and social prescriptions. Both of these factors presents a real barrier to people seeking help, as the fear remains that it will lead to admission to a psychiatric hospital.

In general written resources are not age friendly, often using bright fonts with modern slang and terminology or advocating use of mobile apps or computer programmes which can isolate older audiences. Information is also not always presented in a way that takes into account differing needs due to sensory and cognitive functions.

We also found that concerned friends and family struggled to find resources about ‘how to have that difficult conversation’ and how they could help.

With the learnings from these visits, I am currently developing information resources for people who are concerned about their mental health, with the aim to make it more accessible and age appropriate.

For more information on Mental Health visit:

Or call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90

 

Day out in the Scottish Borders

Morag Halliday, Development Officer, and Martin Munro, Legacy Officer, recently visited two very different groups in the Borders, where change has recently been a major factor

Hawick Senior Citizens Association

Hawick Senior Citizens Association’s Evergreen Hall is tucked away on Dovecote Street overlooking the River Teviot – but you will have no trouble finding the group with the clear shiny new sign that the group has just put up.  This is just one of the many recent changes that the group has undertaken – which together with larger structural changes for warmth and weatherproof – have created an inviting flexible space that is in constant use by the local community.

Evergreen HallWe were welcomed by the large friendly group into the newly insulated and plastered hall, to see phase two of the renovations which included new colour co-ordinated chairs, window and stage curtains that Age Scotland has helped fund.  We were fortunate to visit just before lunchtime on a Thursday – which is when  the Social Group meet for a nourishing and enjoyable lunch followed by a cup of tea and a blether.

Evergreen Group, HawickThe enthusiasm and energy which we witnessed over our meal – as we heard of the dances, indoor skittles and various events and activities the committees and volunteers run – was infectious; as were the inventive ideas for the usage and hiring of the hall and other fundraising ideas that have kept the group running since the 1960’s.

With commitment and enthusiasm like this it’s clear this group will continue to run and run…

If you would like to find out more about the group’s activities or get involved contact George Brown,  Tel No: 01450 373829 email: george.brown732@btinternet.com

Find out more about Age Scotland’s work in the community

Galashiels Men’s Shed

Galashiels Men’s Shed has been set up in record time by a hopeful bunch of people who sat together last November with the enthusiasm and commitment to create a place where men could come together share skills and interests, pursue hobbies and pastimes and have time for coffee and a chat.    Gala Mens ShedIn January this year they started operating from just one small room – making bird boxes and planters for a new sensory garden for people who are blind or partially sighted.  But it soon became apparent interest in the group meant this room was too small and they persuaded the local council to give them a local premises which had been earmarked for demolition.  Gala Mens shedThe group then took ownership of the premises in May this year and the Shedders have been working tirelessly to create a working space and socialising area, when we visited there were over a dozen men, some painting the building and some busy making their workshop benches.  Already they have a range of products that they have produced including garden chairs, bird tables, bird and bat boxes, and are also repairing bicycles  – and the local council has commissioned them to create planters for a common area in the Town Centre.

Its early days but this band of men – with ages ranging from 18 to 82 – with support from the Volunteer Centre Borders – have proven they have the drive to take things forward with an official launch event planned soon.

If you would like to find out more about the group or get involved contact: Nigel Sargent at Volunteer Centre Borders, Tel No: 0845 602 3921 email:  n.sargent@vcborders.org.uk

Find out more about Men’s Sheds on the Age Scotland website.

South Lanarkshire Men’s Shed project’s poignant link to disaster-stricken Garden City

Age Scotland Development Officer, Linda Anderson sits on the steering group for South Lanarkshire Men’s Shed project and reports back on their latest project.

When a ruinous earthquake tore through the urban utopia of Christchurch, New Zealand in February 2011, it claimed 185 lives and decimated buildings and infrastructure.

Aftermath  2The country’s deadliest peacetime disaster had followed another earthquake, which shook the ‘Garden City’ – renowned for its alpine ski slopes and wineries – six months previously.

Aftermath 3Although the aftershocks have subsided the natural calamities have sparked one chain of events that has seen a former Christchurch resident re-settle in Scotland – and redouble his efforts to build community spirit.

Kiwi, David Searle moved to Hamilton last month with his Scots wife Mary, who’s originally from the town. He has just joined a group, made up of local volunteers, who are aiming to build a ‘Men’s Shed’ network in South Lanarkshire.

The Men’s Shed concept was first launched in Australia in the 1990s after it was recognised that there was little opportunity for men, especially older males, to forge new friendships.

The shed was recognised as a domain where the typical Aussie man would carry out tasks and hobbies, like restoring furniture, painting or fixing garden machinery. From there, local groups were established and the shed would be the hub where men would meet, socialise and exchange knowledge and skills.

Since then, Men’s Sheds have taken root with projects forming the world-over. In New Zealand, before the earthquakes, David created and developed a similar community project based on the Men’s Shed concept.

Now, as part of the nationwide Reshaping Care for Older People (RCOP) programme, Seniors Together, an organisation which aims to improve the quality of life for older people living in South Lanarkshire, have established the strategic level steering group of volunteers, which David has joined, to set up the initiative here. The project is being run in conjunction with Age Scotland.

A key aim of RCOP is to provide more help and support to enable growing numbers of older people to remain at home and feel involved in their community.

Men’s Shed embodies that principle and David has revealed that it’s a personal epiphany, realised in the aftermath of disaster 11,000 miles away, that is driving his bid to help in South Lanarkshire.

David Searle 1“My abiding memory straight after the first earthquake in September 2010 wasn’t the chaos or the fear you’d typically associate with a natural disaster.

“The quake came in the early hours and we ran outside our house. I’ll never forget the view of the stars that dark morning.

“All the electricity in the city was knocked out and there was no light pollution – you could see straight into the heavens.”

Despite there being no fatalities in the first quake, measuring 7.1 in magnitude (considered major), the second, half a year later and measuring 6.3, took a deadly toll. David and Mary’s house sustained only minor damage – but they underwent a seismic mindset shift.

“Like that view of the stars, my thought processes have never been clearer since the earthquakes,” David explained. “Ultimately people, including myself and my wife, came away seriously reviewing what we wanted out of life.

“The lasting impact has been; if you want to do something, do it now – and put your heart and soul into it.

“Men’s Shed is one of those things that is extremely important to me and doing what I can to make it a success here means a great deal to me.”

David, a radio amateur and electronics enthusiast set up his first community project, based on the Men’s Shed model, in Christchurch around seven years ago.

He explained: “In earlier times mechanics’ institutes or allotments, things I remembered from childhood, served a social bonding purpose for men but had largely fallen away.

“I’d had a successful career and wanted to give something back so I created a project based on the Men Shed model, coordinating 45 volunteers. We set up events where mostly retired men sat alongside young people and mentored them to build electronic and amateur radio projects.

“The project acted as an instant ice breaker between people who’d never met before. Crucially, they were linking back into, and strengthening, the community by sharing the skills they had. That is an immensely rewarding aspect for the people involved.”

The psychological aftermath of February 2011, however, prompted David’s departure from the projects he’d put his heart and soul into.

“Unlike a flood or fire, which you can often see coming, earthquakes come and hit everybody all at the same time without warning. You don’t know when the next one will strike and that has a tremendous psychological impact on people – trauma which is evident in Christchurch today.”

That emotional strain and uncertainty prompted David and his wife Mary to move to be with their son in Sydney, Australia a short time after the second earthquake.

Seeking a fresh start, the couple have settled into Mary’s hometown last month – with David being renewed in his convictions.

“One of the things that struck me after the earthquake was a lot of the places my wife and I had regularly visited, like coffee shops and nature walks, were out of bounds because of the damage to the city.

“An event like that leaves you feeling vulnerable, fragile and alone – compounded by the fact we didn’t have these social anchors, places where we met friends and stayed connected.

“It got me thinking, and reaffirmed my belief in just how important Men’s Shed actually is to those who face similar feelings in everyday life. Men’s Shed is also about giving people a chance to create and give back to the community, using skills that can make a real difference.

“Just having the chance to do that can make an enormous difference to those involved as well.”

David added: “When I heard of the bid to start a Men’s Shed network here I jumped at the chance to become involved.

“I want to harness the tumult of emotion the earthquakes brought out in me and channel that energy to help the group make Men’s Shed a success here.”

Join the Men’s Shed today

In South Lanarkshire, RCOP combines the expertise of third sector organisations with partner agencies including NHS Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire Councils and the independent sector.

Seniors Together, a RCOP partner, is a South Lanarkshire Council project run in association with NHS Lanarkshire.

Christine Calder, Seniors Together’s project manager, said: “The Men Shed movement is about keeping older men connected to the community.

“Overall, it’s great fun and can be hugely satisfying for those involved to be part of something and use skills they’ve developed over their lives. We’re looking to get projects running across the region, from Hamilton to Clydesdale, East Kilbride to Strathaven.

“Whether you’d like a part in shaping the network though joining the steering group or just want join a project, contact us today.”

For more information about this project, you can contact Christine on 01698 454104 or email christine.calder@southlanarkshire.gov.uk

Read more about Men’s Sheds in Scotland at www.agescotland.org.uk/mensshed