Men’s Shed for Stirling at Braehead Community Garden

A Men’s Shed will be opening in Stirling in January 2018.  Braehead Community Garden has joined the Men’s Shed movement and converted a shipping container into a workshop.   A public meeting is being held on Wednesday 17 January for any interested local “shedders”. Volunteers are in the process of kitting it out with all sort of tools for making and mending all sorts of things.

The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia twenty years ago and is a fascinating and effective way to deal with a long standing problem in communities;  how do you encourage men to form social networks later in life? Men typically find it more difficult to build social connections than women and are notoriously bad at sharing concerns about health and personal worries.

There is quite a bit of research that shows the negative impact of loneliness and isolation on our health and wellbeing.  Recent evidence is coming to light that shows loneliness and isolation can be has hazardous to your health as obesity or smoking.  In the UK there are over one million older people who say they always or often feel lonely.

At Braehead Community Garden, one of our key outcomes has been around tackling loneliness and encouraging people to come together more often.  Whether that’s been with Pumpkin Festivals or Flower Shows, we’ve been quite successful at bringing people together across the generations.  However, I’ve been conscious for a while that off all the successful groups forming around growing food, making crafts, beekeeping, propagating plants or whatever, these groups are either mainly populated by women or by families with children; groups of mainly men are conspicuously absent.

The Men’s Shed Movement 

A concept – quite possibly the only one – that seems to have cracked that particular problem is the Men’s Shed movement.  In the UK there are over 400 sheds offering a meeting space for like-minded people to have fun, share skills and knowledge and, hopefully, gain a new sense of purpose and belonging.  This in turn can reduce isolation and feelings of loneliness, allow men to deal with mental health challenges more easily and in many cases, save lives.

What’s not to like about that?  So over the last few months I’ve been scheming with my partner in crime at the Garden, Jim Kirk, to start a Men’s Shed.   Jim is retired and absolutely amazing at creating and mending things, so he’s converted the shipping container and built a workbench and assembled some starter tools.  That’s Jim and me in the workshop in the picture above.

I’ve been busy fundraising and joining the appropriate associations and getting the organisational side of things in place.  Thanks to Foundation Scotland and Stirling Council’s Community Pride Fund, we’ve raised £2500 to start our shed and we’re ready for business.  Access to the facility will be included in the membership to Braehead Community Garden;  in one sense, we’re simply enhancing the facilities available as part of our £12 a year “access pass” membership option.  But I hope our Shed will become much more than that.

Woodworking, metalworking, repairing and restoring – anything is possible

Members, or “Shedders” as they are known, can work on their own projects or get involved with community projects, help maintain the community garden and other green spaces, or build things for schools, libraries or individuals in need.  Activities vary greatly depending on what shedders wish to pursue, but could include woodworking, metalworking, repairing and restoring, electronics or model building.  Sheds attract people of all age and skill levels.

While our focus will initially on a “Men’s Shed”, I’m hoping that a “Woman’s Shed” and a “Mixed Shed” will follow shortly.  Shedders don’t have to live in Braehead to join up.

Help Spread the Word!

Our next stop is to have a public meeting on Wednesday 17th January at 7.30pm at Braehead Community Garden.  There will also be a drop-in event at the garden workshop on Tuesday 23 January from 10am-noon.   I hope our Men’s Shed can live up to the amazing work being done by other sheds around the country and I’m proud that Braehead Community Garden is getting involved.

I’ll keep you posted on how we get on, but for now, please share this post with anybody who you think might be interested in finding out more.  Or pick up the phone, knock on their door or send them a letter – not everybody we need to reach is online.

Our shed will always be on the lookout for good quality tools, so if you’ve any to donate, get in touch.  Or if you’ve got a project you’d like to start or a skill you’d like to share and you think our workshop would be a good fit, get in touch.