Starting up


How do I get a group together?

In the six months to April 2015 new Sheds in the UK opened at the rate of one every 2.8 days and in all community settings. This fact reassures us all that there will be guys in your community who will want to join a Shed and that it is possible to resolve the issues involved in setting one up. For more experience on forming a group  click here.It is important to let men know that it is never too late to learn. When we make something that is of use to somebody else the sense of achievement is great.

Do we need to become an organisation?

Whilst there are examples of groups of friends meeting informally in a private space once the activity becomes a public one then issues such as responsibility, finance, renting, identity etc need to be faced. Unless it is only financed by its members a group will need to form an organization and open a bank account in the organisation’s name in order to help with fundraising. For information on different options click here.

What will it cost and how will we pay for it?

Whilst the strongest, most sustainable Shed is one that has found the necessary resources from within the group and its contacts, most Sheds will need grants, at least to get started. For examples of Shed income and expenditure click here. For advice on fundraising click here. For research that will support your bid for funding click here.

How can we find a property?

With sufficient funds to rent on the open market finding a premises is no problem but if not this is likely to be the hardest part of getting started. Assuming commercial renting is not affordable or the obligations are too onerous, then community spaces or networking are the way forward. (Local authority property is now normally let at the commercial rate but sometimes on better terms.) For further experience click here.

How shall we equip the place?

The equipment and materials you need for your Shed will depend on what the members want to do. Some Sheds have gone beyond working in wood or metal and have branched out into computing, mecahnics, model-making, photography and much else. Where there is any risk involved you will have to choose between buying new and accepting secondhand. For more experience click here.

What about Health and Safety?

Maintaining Health and Safety in a Shed is a constant activity. Fortunately it mostly calls for care and common sense with the area most likely to be neglected being the record-keeping. This is needed as evidence that you were careful. A policy is evidence that you have thought about the issues. Plans will need to be made for example for safety training for all members, maintenance of machinery and tools, electrical circuit adaptations, hazardous substances control e.g dust, finishes, and keeping the place tidy and uncluttered etc. For further details click here.

What insurance do we need?

The essential insurance is public liability. We have made many enquiries and recommend the Zurich Insight policy which does not regard volunteer managers as employees thus avoiding the cost of Employer’s Liability cover. Small Sheds might pay around £275. If purchased directly through Zurich a 5% discount can be had with a code from UKMSA, saving very nearly our minimum membership fee. Purchase can be online at providing you have done risk assessments on the use of power tools or through Zurich’s business team on 0800 917 9420. You may also decide that you need theft, member-to-member injury, product liability, buildings or trustee indemnity.

An alternative broker is Charities and Social Enterprise Insurance, itself a social enterprise, at

What other help might there be?

Keeping in touch with networks, local organizations and businesses with similar interests can produce helpful information, people and outcomes. For information get on the mailing list of your local Council for Voluntary Service or other body supporting the voluntary sector; materials have come via organisations involved in recycling, an Emmaus group; joint projects via a boat museum, wildlife trusts, an archery club, an author on educational tools for autistic children; people via Stroke Association, Alzheimers group, Healthy Living Centres.

What else do we need to think about?

The start-up stage of a Shed can sometimes take longer than expected because it can take time to get your ideas sorted and for your working group to weld together. Discussion might cover:

  • Who needs a Shed? Of those people who might benefit will you focus on a particular set? Might there be intergenerational work? Will women not be allowed? What about people with special needs?
  • Will it give particular focus to: being productive, creative, active, meeting others, helping others, learning, reuse of materials?
  • What skills/experience do we have? Can we manage the key functions of coordination, becoming an organisation, raising money, administration, finance records, negotiating for property, networking with potential members and community publicity?
  • Cost. Will it be free to attend? A membership fee? Will it need to sell things to continue?

Further sources of advice

Please note: all links open in a new window. Simply return to this site to continue browsing.

AMSA Resources CLICK HERE An excellent information source based upon the far more established Australian Men’s Sheds network and experience.
The View from Westhill. CLICK HERE “We are getting asked a lot for advice on how to start a “Men’s Shed” and we want to help as much as we can….” a guide for the interested!
The Scottish Men’s Sheds Association CLICK HERE This newly-formed Association has a paid worker, Jason Schroeder.


‘It gives me a reason to get up in the morning and for two days a week I feel I’m gainfully employed.
I really feel good working with and helping chaps who often feel isolated in the community.
I would need a very good reason not to come.’
Bill, aged 67

11 thoughts on “Starting up

  1. I am a U3A member and failed to get a “Working with wood group” going for various reasons. I then went to the nearest “Men’s Shed to me at Halesworth which was over 11 miles away. It was superb and has around 35 members with around 1 new member a week joining. I would like to try setting one up in Beccles Suffolk where I’m sure there will be enough interest. Brian.

    1. Hi Brian
      This is the same for me.
      Just retired and disappointed U3A not able to do what I was hoping it would be anke to do.
      I would like to set up a Men Sheds in Maket Deeping.
      Can you tell me how I start?
      Alan Myson
      Mob: 07887 744847

  2. Hi Alan. that is a shame as I live in Bourne but moving to Devon and want to start a SHED

    My question is I still need to make an income being only 49 yrs old but want to start a SHED too.
    Is running a SHED a voluntary position or is there a way of being paid to run it.
    I met one of the Eastbourne SHED’ers earlier in the year and he was very enthusiastic and passionate which inspired myself in tern.


    Tim Grainger

    1. Hello TIm

      Great to hear you’d like to start a Shed. Yes, they are usually voluntary roles as UKMSA is a strong supporter of the grassroots model. The main paid roles are where Age UK have set up a Shed and put in a paid worker.

      Good luck!
      Anne (UKMSA Director of Services)

  3. Retired, eight years, electrical contracting and maintenance, employee back ground,
    Will be in Eastbourne between (9th. & 17th. Aug, 2016) would be interested to go ” Shedding ” while there. Offers? Trying to open a shed in home town of Stockport in the N.W. south east of Manchester, 10 miles approx.

  4. So exciting. Great revelation. Never knew something like this is going on anywhere in the world. Can’t wait to have sheds started in Nigeria. We have the Senior Games Foundation, but this is just WOW. Awesome. Well done old boys. PAUL, REDEMPTION CAMP NIGERIA.

  5. Is there any interest in starting a Shed down here in Dawlish/Teignmouth,in South Devon? Lots of retirees about the place. I’d like to become involved and contribute to such a group. Replies to me below to start with:-

  6. I am a lady… oops and only 57! …. ah….. I run classes in papercrafting and am really keen to get men interested. I loved working with the men from roundtable on a project for valentines day and we had such fun if only they felt able to come to my main classes but somehow it feels a bit ladies only to them. Somehow they all seem to assume it’s for women. Is it possible to set up a ” Light Weight Men’s Shed? ” as I wold be wanting not to work with larger tools but with paper making tools and equipment. I run a separate company selling paper crafting products would this be a conflict of interest or what? Advice gratefully received. I live and work in Worcestershire where there are very few if any sheds.

Leave a comment