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.