The hashtag #Shedders is one that is gaining recognition nationally. It denotes the steadily rising Men’s Shed community, a community focussed on supporting men’s mental health and wellbeing.
Men’s Sheds are now being recognised all over the UK and Scotland, with organisations such as the Men’s Sheds Association providing support and guidance in the establishment of local men sheds that are community-driven and member-led entities (Men’s Sheds Association 2022).
After Men’s Sheds were established in Foxbar and Barrhead, Paisley’s STAR Project helped to set up a Paisley Men’s Shed, whose members moved into a shed at St. Mirren Football Club in March of 2019. As a Paisley-generated community organisation, STAR Project has championed inclusive community initiatives since its inception in 1999. A couple of community members coming to STAR Project and identifying the need for a Paisley Men’s Shed is what gave the push towards finding a suitable space and identifying community stewards who would support the creation and maintenance of the shed and the rest of the site. This process also points towards a great asset residing in STAR Project, namely its approach of actively listening to the community. Rather than STAR imposing ideas about ‘effective’ events on its members, ideas generate among the community and are brought to STAR to measure their viability. The team at STAR then experiment and work hard in bringing the idea to life.
The Men’s Shed is a space where learning is made possible through shared connections. Every Tuesday and Thursday the Paisley shed is open to community members to drop in and engage in crafts such as woodworking, enabling members to make something that benefits the wider community; from birdboxes suited to specific bird species common in Paisley, to vegetable trugs, and wooden benches. The organisers provide the tools and equipment for crafting, and the shedders get to creating.
Men from all different backgrounds and walks of life can come together at the shed and connect through trade. Men who have retired are, for example, happy to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation that is looking for a useful way to spend their time. It has become a place to practice skills, grow in confidence, and engage in activities that allow individuals to take a break from their mental and physical struggles. Additionally, participation in shed-based activities has provided a renewed sense of purpose, increase productivity and provide a way to pass on knowledge on (traditional) craft.
And, not only have the shed’s activities generated intergenerational community-based support; before the shed was created at St. Mirren, the site was a left-over space devoid of any use. The shedders have worked hard to tackle the land surrounding the shed and have even created a polytunnel meant for gardening, the produce of which is recirculated back into the community.
In a way, the Paisley Men’s Shed has become a local hub for creativity, social life, and community empowerment – something that Paisley can be very proud of.
Men’s Shed Association (2022). About. Available at: https://menssheds.org.uk/about/#who-we-are. (Accessed: 11 Oct. 2022).