Shed Movement History - The Journey So Far
Why Men's Sheds?
Many years there were perhaps more opportunities for men to gather together and pass the time of day. In a village they might hang around the blacksmiths' shop waiting - or so they would say - for a horse to be shod or a plough to be mended. In reality they were just chatting. In a rural town they would gather at the market to buy and to sell and to watch and comment on the goods being traded and on the people buying and selling. In an industrial city they would cycle or walk to work together. Today there aren't many places where men can gather for no reason at all. Work is a substitute of sorts but after retirement loneliness can set in. Women of course face the same problems but they are typically better at building and maintaining social links. Too many men are lonely in retirement.
When did they start?
Men's Sheds started in Australia (https://mensshed.org) in the late 1980's with the realisation that although men are slow to talk or socialise face-to-face they will communicate far more easily and openly if they are working together on a common task. Give them something to do and somewhere to do it and conversations will start and friendships will be formed. The Shed motto "Shoulder to Shoulder" reflects the fact that it's easier to ask an embarrassing question or to provide personal advice if you're not sat facing each other. If you're both working to build a garden bench then a conversation can develop. Any awkward silences are covered by a burst of sawing or hammering.
The movement started very informally but grew into an international organisation and reached the UK in 2008. Today the UK Men's Sheds Association (https://menssheds.org.uk) supports over 600 Sheds in the UK. The UKMSA don't run them or finance them, each Shed is an independent unit based in its own community, but they provide help and advice to anyone running a shed, wanting to start a Shed, or thinking of joining one.
How do Shed's operate?
Each Shed is different but a typical Shed will be a mix of workshop and social club. Some members will be there to make something, others will be there to watch and to offer advice, others will just be there for a chat and to reminisce - or to tell tall stories. The type of workshop varies tremendously. Most are based on woodworking because it's a relatively quiet activity that can be started with minimal equipment. Others venture into metalworking and some go as far as CAD and 3D printing. Despite these differences, they all have similar aims.
They all exist to help their members to:
* Share experiences and and learn skills.
* Reduce their isolation or loneliness.
* Make friends and connect with the wider community.
* Maintain their good health.
How did Redditch Community Shed start?