Discovering Men’s Sheds, 1 Sep. 2011
Discovering Men’s Sheds brought a range of professionals together in Leicester, to consider new ways in which learning can tackle the isolation and loneliness experienced by older men. Age UK’s Men in Sheds pilot project has been hugely successful in proving that bringing men together in an informal learning environment can have a real impact on the health and wellbeing of older men. Men in Sheds provides older men with a workshop (shed), tools and equipment so they can use existing skills and learn new ones, while enjoying the benefits of working in a social group.
Organised by NIACE, Age UK, Men’s Health Forum and Leicester University, the conference examined the achievements of Men in Sheds – funded by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust – as well as the challenges and successes faced by those setting up and running their Sheds. Workshops throughout the day also explored the practicalities of sustaining a Shed and the role of informal learning in engaging men.
Carol Taylor, NIACE Director of Development and Research, said:
“Discovering Men’s Sheds is not just about sheds, it is also about finding ways to encourage and engage men in informal adult learning activity. This is especially important as men get older and find themselves without the companionship and sense of belonging they get at work. We know that people who remain active – in both body and mind – as they get older, are more likely to remain healthy, have better mental health, be more robust at dealing with the difficulties that aging brings, to engage with others in their communities and just be more involved with life. The benefits of this to both the individual and the state are obvious. But most of all we want men, who are traditionally much underrepresented in informal adult learning activity, to discover the fun and sense of purpose that being part of a purposeful learning activity can bring.”
Helena Herklots, Services Director at Age UK, said:
“Keeping active by pursuing hobbies and interests, having contact with others and taking regular exercise all have positive effects on mental and physical ageing. This important conference will offer insights into how the innovative Men in Sheds scheme can help to tackle loneliness and isolation in local communities across the country.”
The concept behind the conference was originally developed in Australia where it’s called Men’s Sheds. Honorary Australian Men’s Sheds Association Patron, Professor Barry Golding of the University of Ballarat in Australia, provided the keynote address at the conference.