Community groups helping to tackle isolation in older men are being urged to ‘shed’ their inhibitions and apply for a share of funding. 

The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) wants groups to apply for the latest round of the Sheds Grant Fund to support the set-up of ‘shed’ spaces, as well as already established Shed projects.

‘Sheds’ are workshop spaces where people meet to take part in practical skills such as woodworking or electronics. They are designed and run by their members and provide opportunities to make new friendships. 

Locally, The Men’s Shed on Portland welcomes members from Weymouth and Portland, and Dorchester Men’s Shed is open to men and women from the town over the age of 18.

RVS partnered with the UK Men’s Sheds Association in 2015 to support the development of Sheds as a way of tackling social isolation in older men.

Research from the RVS found men’s social networks are typically based on their workplace and 51 per cent of men over 65 years of age socialise a lot less once they have retired.

It also found that 45 per cent of men only socialise once or twice a month and 32 per cent avoid socialising altogether.

Now in its third year, the Sheds Grant Fund, established by RVS and supported by the Asda Foundation, provides sums from £250 to £1,000 to people who are either interested in starting their own community shed or want help with running costs for existing projects.

Abigail Hurrell, Sheds project manager at RVS said: “At Royal Voluntary Service we see sheds as an ideal way for older people to stay active in their community as well as having a go at learning new skills. 

“There’s a secret ‘shedder’ in all of us and most people have a DIY project around the house that they haven’t got round to.

"Sheds provide an opportunity for people to get advice on all of those tricky jobs and build their confidence”

While open to both women and men, the Sheds movement is mainly aimed at tackling social isolation in older men. All groups are required to be part of, or join as a condition of funding, the UK Men’s Shed Association when applying for the grant. 

‘Shedding’ is a growing movement and data from the UK Men’s Sheds Association shows a rise from 164 open Sheds at the end of summer 2015, to more than 450 currently.
Annmarie Rocks, Asda Foundation senior coordinator, said:

“The Asda Foundation sees the Sheds programme making a real difference to local people.”

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