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Quite simply: all things Shed.

Learn all you’ll need about starting Sheds, finding Sheds in the wild, plus how to maintain and manage one.

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There’s a comprehensive FAQ section on our website if you can’t find the answers you’re looking for on this page.

What is a Men’s Shed?

Men’s Sheds (or Sheds) are similar to garden sheds – a place to pursue practical interests at leisure, to practice skills and enjoy making and mending. The difference is that garden sheds and their activities are often solitary in nature while Men’s Sheds are the opposite. They’re about social connections and friendship building, sharing skills and knowledge, and of course a lot of laughter.

Sheds are whatever the members (or Shedders as we call them) want them to be. Although labelled sheds, they often aren’t sheds at all. They can be empty offices, portable cabin’s, warehouses, garages, and in at least one case, a disused mortuary. Some Sheds are purpose built workshops, but they rarely start out that way. Many don’t have premises at all in the beginning and instead form a group that meets regularly for the social connection, company and camaraderie until they can find somewhere to kit out with tools. Many Sheds get involved in community projects too – restoring village features, helping maintain parks and green spaces, and building things for schools, libraries and individuals in need.

Activities in Sheds vary greatly, but you can usually find woodworking, metalworking, repairing and restoring, electronics, model buildings or even car building in a typical Shed. Sheds typically attract older men, but many have younger members and women too. Whatever the activity, the essence of a Shed is not a building, but the connections and relationships between its members.

Start your own Shed

Fancy becoming a Shed leader and starting your own Shed? We’ve got all the info and support you need.

How did they start?

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.

Why are they needed?

For a long time research has shown the negative impact of loneliness and isolation on a person’s health and wellbeing. Recently we have seen more evidence come to light that shows loneliness and isolation can be as hazardous to our health as obesity and excessive smoking. Surveys from mental health charities are finding that millions of people report feeling lonely on a daily basis.

Men typically find it more difficult to build social connections than women, and unlike women of a similar age, less older men have networks of friends and rarely share personal concerns about health and personal worries. It is not the case for all men, but for some, when retirement comes, it can feel like personal identity and purpose is lost. Men’s Sheds can change all of that.

Sheds are about meeting like-minded people and having someone to share your worries with. They are about having fun, sharing skills and knowledge with like-minded people and gaining a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. As a by-product of all of that they reduce isolation and feelings of loneliness, they allow men to deal with mental health challenges more easily and remain independent, they rebuild communities and in many cases, they save men’s lives.

Men’s Sheds are vital.

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What’s next?

If you still have more questions about Sheds, head over to our FAQs area, otherwise, it’s time to engage with the Shedder’s network. Find a local Shed to join or start your own and thrive.

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