Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

It’s currently Mental Health Awareness Week 2022. According to Rethink Mental Illness charity, UK men are “three times as likely to die by suicide than women”. Mental Health UK says suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the country.

Recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics (Quarter 4, October – December 2021) continue to show that three times as many men as women have died by suicide. Quarterly suicide death registrations in England – Office for National Statistics

UK Men’s Sheds help men overcome the challenges of isolation and loneliness, depression, lost hope and purpose, and for many, are a lifeline. Through informal chats, friendship and social contact, Sheds can help support people that are struggling with their mental health, and that may feel suicidal. 

But what should you do if someone tells you they feel suicidal? Sometimes you might find yourself in the position where someone you know (or a stranger) tells you they are struggling with their mental health and are feeling suicidal.

It’s important for us all to know how to support someone in this situation and where we might turn to for support ourselves. 

Zero Suicide Alliance offer free online training that anyone can access. There are different learning options, including a full length session (20 minutes) and a gateway module (5-10 minutes). These sessions will ensure you know useful things to say and questions to ask a person that has disclosed suicidal feelings, and how to offer support. They are also available in Welsh language. 

Rethink Mental Illness also have a useful factsheet on how to support someone that is feeling suicidal if you would rather have a printable resource that you can share with your Shed. 

Another useful resource is a session we ran at the virtual 2021 ShedFest, delivered by Patrick Abrahams and Peter Larkum, about how to help others with their mental health and the ways in which you might start conversations about how people are feeling.

You can view it on our YouTube channel here – Helping others with their Mental Health : ShedFest 2021 – YouTube.

Ellandi announce UK Men’s Sheds as their Charity of the Year

Today marks the launch of a partnership with Ellandi – an agency that manages retail and town centre spaces – who have selected us as their Charity of the Year.  As well as raising funds for UK Men’s Sheds, the team at Ellandi will be helping to provide access to vacant premises within the 26 shopping centres that they are responsible for across the UK. These will provide opportunities for existing Sheds, and those in development, to offer drop-in sessions that will help to attract new members and to spread the message about the work of the Men’s Sheds movement. In addition, specialists from the company will be able to provide advice and guidance to Sheds in areas such as reviewing property leases, basic organisational accountancy and leadership/succession planning.

(Left to right – David Payling, Christina Beggan, Charlie Bethel, Jonathon Robson and Daniel Davies

David Meli, Partnerships & Community Development Manager for UKMSA, said; “We’re delighted to have been chosen as Ellandi’s Charity of the Year. Working together, we will aim to raise awareness about the benefits of Men’s Sheds in supporting the health and well-being of men and combatting the effects of loneliness and depression. Utilising spaces in shopping centres provides the opportunity of replicating the success of Bootle Tool Shed in showcasing activities, and bringing the Men’s Shed message, to a new and more diverse audience.”

David Payling, Chief Operating Officer for Ellandi, adds, “Loneliness affects people of all ages and from all backgrounds and, while most of us will have experienced some feelings of being lonely at one time or another, the pandemic has acted as a trigger for chronic loneliness among a much greater proportion of the population than before. Men’s Sheds is a fantastic charity raising awareness and taking action to create networks that reduce loneliness and isolation. I’m excited to launch our partnership with Men’s Sheds, especially in Mental Health Awareness Week, and I look forward to seeing first-hand the work they do in our shared communities.” 

We’ll keep members updated on opportunities as they arise and seek to ensure that as many of our Sheds as possible are able to benefit from this exciting partnership.

A new Shed for Nuneaton

Marcus Jones MP and the Mayor of Nuneaton and Bedworth have officially opened the new home of a Nuneaton group which supports men and women with their mental health and wellbeing.

Nuneaton Men and Women in Sheds, which currently has 20 members and is continuing to grow, has officially opened its new Shed at The Bermuda Phoenix Community Centre.

Cllr Rob Tromans, Mayor of Nuneaton and Bedworth, joined Marcus Jones MP to open the Shed, which relocated from George Eliot Hospital. 

From left to right, Cllr Mandy Tromans, Cllr Rob Tromans (Mayor of Nuneaton & Bedworth), Tony Cole and Marcus Jones MP

People can become isolated and the group provides a safe environment for men and women to share their woodwork skills, continue to develop their skills and meet with like-minded individuals.

Eight of the ‘Shedders’ rebuilt the Shed after it was dismantled and grant funding has enabled the group to invest in new equipment for the Shed.

Nearby businesses Subcon Laser Cutting and Saputo Dairy UK donated resources and funding to support the new Shed. 

The group also received support from The Bermuda Phoenix Community Centre and Peter Deeley, joint managing director of the Deeley Group which built the community centre in 2013.

Marcus Jones MP said: “I am very pleased to be here at the opening of the new Shed for Nuneaton’s Men and Women in Sheds group.

In a remarkable short space of time, this initiative which started life in Australia, has expanded and established deep roots in Nuneaton. 

The volunteers have themselves created their splendid new home here at Bermuda and I have no doubt it will enable them to continue to lend their phenomenal skills to many different local projects. I have seen many of the items they have made and placed around George Eliot Hospital and elsewhere in schools and other community settings and, without exception, they have been well-made, practical and much appreciated.

I wish the group every success for the future and wish all current and future members the very best.”

Cllr Rob Tromans, Mayor of Nuneaton and Bedworth, was joined by Cllr Mandy Tromans to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony. 

Cllr Tromans said: “The pandemic has made people come together and think more about the importance of community and wellbeing. 

The Shedders have done a marvellous job to maintain relationships between their members, they have come out the other side and built this fantastic place for themselves. 

We have to thank everyone that has shown their support for this project.

Representatives from George Eliot Hospital attended the opening ceremony and were joined by members of the group, local businesses and charities from Nuneaton.

Tony Cole, Chair of Nuneaton Men and Women in Sheds, added: “We’re happy to have found a new home here at Bermuda Phoenix Community Centre and would like to thank George Eliot Hospital for all of its support.

Our Shedders have rebuilt the Shed themselves and that was quite the challenge for eight men all over 60! We couldn’t have done it without the support from Subcon Laser and Saputo Dairy.

The group is great for the mental health of our members, its good comradery – even if people just come and have a cup of tea with us. When restrictions allowed, the meetings our group had in lockdown kept spirits alive and helped people through tough times.

We would like to thank Marcus Jones and the Mayor for joining us for the official opening and hope our new Shed will enable the group to support more people in the community.” 

To find out more about Nuneaton Men and Women in Sheds contact nuneatonsheds@gmail.com or visit the group’s Facebook page

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

Hello to both Shedders and supporters – welcome to this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental Health Awareness Week runs from the 9th-15th May and this year’s theme is loneliness. 

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 – Mental Health UK

We have a couple of stories to share this week about how some Sheds have been taking positive steps to promote supporting mental health, and how they encourage their Shedders to have honest conversations about how they are feeling. We wanted to highlight a few Sheds that are making a difference and share this with you, today we bring you Cramlington Man Shed.

Cramlington Man Shed – Northumberland

The Cramlington Man Shed in Northumberland was started by 39-year-old Alan Mertsch as a result of his own experiences with anxiety, which he found worsened throughout the pandemic.

Alan moved back into the Cramlington area to live with his dad Norman after losing his mum two years ago. After the move Alan and Norman set to work starting the Shed. The Shed is now a registered charity and has a waiting list of new members wanting to join. 

We have had a lot of women interested too so we are thinking of doing a women’s Shed one day a week. Now we have become a registered charity I am reaching out to local businesses to sponsor us. Fingers crossed we can access some funding and secure a bigger place and help more men in our community.

Cramlington Shedders

Alan is open about his own experiences with anxiety and says that by sharing his story with members, it can help Shedders open up to him or other members if they need to. 

Alan said “When new members look to join our Shed I spend about an hour with them having a cuppa and a chat. What I have found is if I open up about my own personal struggles with anxiety it often encourages them to open up about their experiences with their mental health. I always make sure to tell them that it helps to talk about these issues and that if they ever need to talk about their struggles, they can chat to me and not to feel ashamed about it. We all struggle with mental health; I think over the last couple of years most people would have had some mental health problems.”

Along with traditional woodwork and craft Alan is planning other ways in which Shedders can come and relax at the Shed. 

Cramlington Man Shed

We plan to have a canteen area, a photography studio, a little shop, a chill out area for our gents that have PTSD so they can go somewhere calm and relaxing, and a nice outdoor space with picnic tables and a BBQ area.”

Alan said he knows the importance of Sheds providing places to come together for activity and a place to talk if needed. 

We have members that travel 20 miles to come to our man shed as some other Sheds have closed down in our area due to lack of funds which is sad to hear. I have found out about the happiness it brings helping other men struggling with their mental health. It is worth it as you can see them come out their shells; it’s amazing to see what a difference Sheds make.”

You can see more of Cramlington Men’s Shed, and hear more from Alan in this article featured in Chronicle Live – Cramlington father and son duo open community Man Shed to help with mental health.

UKMSA announces new partnership with First Aid Providers

UKMSA is delighted to announce a new partnership to add to the growing list of organisations that are keen to provide benefits to member Sheds.

Three of the major providers of first aid training in the UK – St John Ambulance, St Andrew’s First Aid and St John Ambulance Cymru – have joined forces with the UKMSA to offer discounted access for member Sheds to their short courses which cover the essentials of first aid. 

These courses incorporate all of the basic knowledge and skills that will ensure trained individuals within Sheds can provide emergency aid in the event of an incident prior to the arrival of fully trained paramedics.  This includes; how to manage an incident, performing resuscitation/CPR, treating an unresponsive casualty and how to deal with situations such as severe bleeding, chest pains and shock.

Courses can be delivered at a Shed, if there is a sufficient number of its members who would like to be trained, or they could host a course on behalf of members from nearby Sheds.  Alternatively, individuals could book on to an organised public course. This would all come at an exclusive discounted rate for UKMSA members.

Alexandra Taylor, Community Engagement Manager at St John Ambulance, said: “In an emergency, knowing what to do and how to help someoneinjured or unwellcan make a huge difference to their recovery and could save their life, particularly if the incident is serious. First aid trainingwill provide Shedders with the knowledge and confidenceto act quickly and minimise damage. The lifesaving skills, like CPR and first aid that they will learn, will not onlybenefit fellow members, but could be used if an emergency occurred outside the Shed – keeping family, friends and their local communities safe too.” 

St Andrew’s First Aid’s Director of Operations and Community Engagement, Jim Dorman, said; “St Andrew’s First Aid are delighted to extend our working partnership with Men’s Sheds in Scotland by offering them discounted first aid training.  We linked up with them last year to provide thirteen sheds with defibrillators in line with our community engagement plans.  This arrangement will further both our aims to provide people in their communities with vital life-saving skills.”

Sarah Cutting, Community Engagement Manager at St John Ambulance Cymru, said “We’re thrilled to be partnering with UKMSA to ensure Shed members here in Wales are empowered with the skills that could make all the difference in an emergency. More people with first aid knowledge means there are more potential lifesavers within our communities.”

David Meli, Partnerships & Community Development Manager at UKMSA, stated; “Having listened to feedback from our members we are delighted to have brought together three of the key agencies in the first aid training sector to be able to offer support to Sheds. We all know that accidents can happen, especially where machinery is concerned, so it is great that we are now able to offer access to high quality and appropriate training to help members deal with any incidents.”Sheds can access more information about the partnership with St John Ambulance, St Andrew’s First Aid and St John Ambulance Cymru and also how to access the exclusive member discounts by visiting the Member Benefits section of the UKMSA website here.

A Splash and Dash

UK Men’s Sheds would like to say a big thank you to Alison Farthing, who challenged herself to complete a ‘Splash and Dash’ in February 2022 in memory of her younger brother, Steve, raising sponsorship for UK Men’s Sheds. Alison’s challenge involved her either running 5k around her local village, or swimming a mile in her local open pool every single day throughout February this year.

Alison celebrating 28 days of her ‘Splash and Dash’

Alison said “I wasn’t looking forward to the start of February. My brother died the day before his birthday in February 2021, and I wanted to do something in his memory, for an organisation that might have benefitted someone like him. I remember Steve as a tall, kind, very generous kid-brother who always allowed me to play with him. He was sporty –a badminton player, and always loved weird science stuff that would go over my head.

Alison with her brother, Steve

Sadly through a combination of family losses, life events, a stressful job and poor choices around alcohol, Steve became isolated from his family and friends. He wasn’t good at asking for help and poor health compounded by Covid restrictions led to his premature death at just 53. When looking for who to raise money for, I came across UK Men’s Sheds and saw that Sheds are safe spaces where men can open up over a cup of tea if they want to, or just build something, which can also help. Perhaps a Shed would have helped by brother through some tough times.

My challenge included 4 park runs. “I loved the fresh air and feeling fitter each day (though I ruined my running shoes and had to invest in new ones!!). I also supported the local outdoor swimming pool and cafe by going 3 times a week then eating cakes and breakfasts afterwards.”

Alison ran an impressive 60 miles, and swam 10 throughout February, sometimes on her own, but often with support of friends and others in her community. UK Men’s Sheds would like to thank her for raising an impressive £2,050 to support the work of UK Men’s Sheds. Her fundraising page is still open at gofund.me/f86cd600 if others would still like to donate.

UKMSA announces new partnership with Portable Space

UKMSA is delighted to announce a new partner to add to the growing list of organisations that are keen to provide benefits to member Sheds.

Portable Space is a leading UK supplier of shipping containers & conversions, portable cabins, toilet/shower units, modular buildings and steel storage containers, available to buy and hire. These include the Flatpack Cabin and Container Range which is light enough to be offloaded in sections from a small trailer or pick-up truck and is made up of sections that are small enough to fit through small passageways. These units can be joined (side by side or end on end) to create a larger workspace. 

Shipping containers are available in a variety of lengths – from 8ft to 40ft – and various configurations. Portable Space can also provide a variety of accessories such as grafotherm coating, padlocks, and magnetic lights for inside the containers if they will be accessed at night or flood lights for outside the containers. They can even respray containers if you have a particular colour scheme that you’d like to match.

Debenham Shed, Suffolk
Bitterne Shed Club, Hampshire

Portable Space has already supported two of our member Sheds. Debenham Shed in Suffolk had an existing shipping container workshop that needed to be moved to a new site and Portable Space did this free of charge. In Hampshire, Bitterne Shed Club needed a secure unit to house their collection of tools and they ordered a 4m x 2.1m powder-coated flatpack store. Hugh Robinson from Bitterne Shed Club commented; “We needed a secure and waterproof unit to house our tools and the wood we use to make our items. The Portable Space flatpack met all our criteria and we are thrilled with the result. Throughout, all our dealings, the team has been helpful and friendly – a very positive experience.”

Portable Space are prepared to offer UKMSA members exclusive discounts and specialist advice on all products, services, and delivery. Tracy Spurgeon, from Portable Space, said; “We are excited to support members of this vital relationship network, Portable Space is all about its people and we are proud to help in the battle against isolation and assist with social connections”

David Meli, Partnerships & Community Development Manager at UKMSA, stated; “We’re delighted to welcome Portable Space to our portfolio of partners that help support the work of our members. Finding a suitable location and facility can be a real challenge when establishing a Shed and the flexible options offered by Portable Space provide a great solution and should certainly help to grow more Sheds across the UK.”

Sheds can access more information about the Portable Space range and also how to access the exclusive member discounts by visiting the Member Benefits section of the UKMSA website here.

Our offices have moved!

We have moved!

Many of you will be aware that UK Men’s Sheds Association does not have a physical office and that staff work from home from across the Country.  The virtual office we have used is similar to a PO BOX with a service that would scan and forward post when required.

Our new address is:

UK Men’s Sheds Association

49 Station Rd
East Sussex
BN26 6EA

Our email and telephone numbers remain unchanged! No removal vehicles were harmed in this move! Thank you!

The Launch of The Charter for Wellbeing in Craft and DIY

Earlier this month Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson welcomed UKMSA along with representatives from the Craft and DIY Sector together with the Third sector to the Churchill Room in the House of Commons to launch the Charter for Wellbeing in Craft and DIY.  

The Baroness spoke of the importance of everyone’s wellbeing and mental health and thanked the Men’s Sheds movement and the work of Sheds across the UK for their tremendous impact. 

In their speeches, the Chairman, John Latchford and Chief Officer, Charlie Bethel spoke about the pandemics of anxiety, depression and loneliness that preceded Covid and continue to grow with devastating impact on our society.  It was highlighted that whilst like many diseases and conditions, these do not discriminate across gender, race, geography – the reality is that there is a greater impact on men in particular as a result of how society engages with them and that if this was not the case we would not see men being four times more likely to die by suicide than women, we would not see suicide as the single biggest killer of men under the age of 46 in the UK.  

The Charter for Wellbeing in Craft and DIY is a vehicle to bring everyone in the craft sector together with the third sector to promote wellbeing, to promote positive environments, to respond to the needs of people in ways that work.

Joining Baroness Grey Thompson, John and Charlie, our Patron Chris Fisher RPT, better known as the Blind Wood Turner spoke about his challenges with mental health and how learning to do woodturning transformed his life and together with his family led him away from thoughts of suicide.

The inspiration for the Charter and the person who stirred a ‘call to arms’ for UKMSA was Luci Love who met with UKMSA following the death of her husband, Darron.  

Luci spoke about Darron’s struggle with depression and the events that led to his death.  To listen to listen to Luci, to hear the pain, sorrow, helplessness and impact of her and her families loss was humbling.  It is also puts on us all the importance to succeed in supporting existing and new Sheds across the country.  What resonated from Luci’s speech was the phrase, ‘if only we had known about Men’s Sheds, Darron might still be with us’.

As a collective, as Men’s Sheds we must all strive for a world where there are no more ‘if onlys’ and instead more of the story of Sheds saving and transforming lives.

Many people in Men’s Sheds simply attend to make things, to support the community or friends. One Ambassador who attended commented that, ‘it is fascinating to see how Men’s Sheds fit into the overall picture of mental health and we can and do help so many men’.  It is often only when we take time to step back that, as a movement, we can appreciate the difference we are making and how much more of an impact we can make.

Men’s Sheds are not the only solution to the challenges people face and we were joined by partners from across the sector including the Zero Suicide Alliance, Men’s Health Forum, Men’s Sheds Cymru and Lions Barbers Collective who provide incredible support and resources with incredible results.

In the Shed movement we are only too aware of people saying ‘thank you for giving me my Dad back’ or ‘the Shed genuinely saved my life’. Our challenge to the Craft sector is that we can just be a sector or industry where we carry on as usual, or we can take responsibility to provide and promote opportunities that will save people’s lives, will reduce loneliness, will bring joy and happiness to them and those around them.

There is a huge audience, a huge potential and a huge opportunity to engage people together.  This will save lives and also enhance the Shed experience.  Already we are in discussions with a number of companies to activate their support to the Charter and one is looking to train all their staff with Zero Suicide Alliance Training and another to include branding about Men’s Sheds in their product range – two really positive things.

A huge thank you to everyone and every Shed that has signed the Charter for Wellbeing in Craft and DIY already and we encourage you to sign up to demonstrate the power of Men’s Sheds and the impact we can all have on connecting what we do with the wider Craft and DIY industry.

We ask you to sign the Charter today, as a Shed, as an individual.  Tell us what you are doing to make a difference, what your Shed has done and what you will be doing.

The responses to date are humbling – the value of Men’s Sheds is priceless – with this Charter we can celebrate this and encourage more companies and organisations to get involved to make a difference.

Thank you to all Men’s Sheds and organisations involved for the real impact on real people we are making.

Saving lives through Craft and DIY

This afternoon UK Men’s Sheds Association launches the Charter for wellbeing in Craft and DIY!

The Charter has been developed to encourage people and companies working across the DIY, Shedders, Craft and Hobbyist Sector to come together to both promote peoples’ wellbeing and encourage people to get involved with groups such as Men’s Sheds.