Start a Shed

About this Guide

So you’re thinking of starting a Shed? Great! We’re here to help.

By now you’ve likely discovered that the Men’s Shed concept started in Australia around 1999. It then spread to New Zealand, Ireland, the UK, Canada and, more recently, Europe and the USA with a total worldwide of around 2000 Sheds in 2020.

Sheds are mainly ‘grassroots’ community activities that come about in response to shared needs.  These have mostly been for men to access tools, workbenches, skills and opportunities to make and mend in the company of others. Gardening, computing, electronics and other activities have been included according to members’ interests. The UK Men’s Sheds Association (UKMSA) regard a Shed as the group, whether or not it has a base for activity.

An alternative to grassroots, bottom-up development, is where an established organisation creates and takes full responsibility for a Shed as an additional part of its work. Occasionally, an organisation might provide one or more support functions to an independent Shed such as underwriting the finances or providing management services.

Sheds bring health benefits by encouraging physical and mental activity, and improved wellbeing by providing an enjoyable way to stay socially integrated in local communities, by being creative, and learning or passing on skills. Whilst most Sheds are for men, about a third involve women. There are now also some all women Sheds.

This guide covers the main issues involved in starting a Shed and things to consider based, on Shedders’ experiences. It is just a guide which we anticipate you will use as you see fit.

More general guidance on setting up an organisation is also often available locally through voluntary sector support organisations and sometimes from community development staff provided in local or county councils. Other resources are available, such as the National Council for Voluntary Organisation’s (NCVO) knowledge bank. NCVO membership is free for small organisations.

In addition to written advice, the UK Men’s Sheds Association (UKMSA) staff can offer one-to-one advice, as can experienced regional volunteer Ambassadors who have all run their own Sheds.

Later on, if you become a member Shed, you’ll get more detailed support; all the resources you need to develop and sustain a thriving Men’s Shed exclusive benefits including discounts on tools and equipment.

We hope once you’ve read this guide you’ll be as excited as us about your Shed journey. Happy Shedding!

Click here to download our Starting a Shed guide as a PDF.

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