The Festival of Thrift in Billingham takes place in two weeks time. UKMSA is sending a vertical banner to be a main focal point. On the table we plan to have items of interest and leaflets on the wellbeing, health and fun aspects of Men’s Sheds and the banner below will be behind the table. The Shedders at the table will explain what the Sheds gets up to from their experience but the banner will explain the community context of a typical Shed – who helps the Shed and who the Shed helps. 

Men’s Sheds deliver mateship, banter, purpose, friendships and cuppas. The Shedders do it BUT with the collaboration of many others.

We need to nail the problem of loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression and it needs to happen together with those surrounding the Shed and of course by we Shedders too!

If you can attend for a while over the weekend 23/24 September that would be greatly appreciated. Call Graham 07763 656627

Wednesday was something to celebrate at Whitby Doing Place

There was a duo creating musical noise and another who was creating aspects of a new computer game. 

Lawrence crafts a Krampus pole with rattling bottle tops

Elaine made various lined body parts for “a kind of man”

Show a leg

Ray continues the museum object 



























Marie’s C&G work is a work of true art.

Betty turns her hand to some carving













“Dotty” craft in the hands of Katy

Meanwhile, Graham applied a second coat of floor paint to the Gents floor and then took to a TEAMS session for an hour. Working on funding bids that our Sheds in Whitby can in and similar in Norton.


Labrador Shed (Len Thomson’s) celebrated 30 years of Sheds yesterday

We start with the press release.

Men’s Shed Labrador celebrating 30 Years of Sheds this Men’s Shed Week

For many Australian men the local Men’s Shed offers somewhere to go, something to do and mates that make it all worthwhile.

Since the first community shed for men opened its doors in 1993, the Men’s Shed community has grown to encompass more than 2,500 Sheds in 12 countries.

Today more than 1,300 Men’s, Women’s and Community Sheds benefit from membership of the Australian Men’s Shed Association. A figure that surpasses even the number of McDonald’s restaurants around the country.

Known by many as a place where older blokes can go to tinker and have a cuppa, to the wider Australian public there is still some mystery around what goes on at the local shed. And truth be told, the detailed picture varies from shed to shed, depending on the members within its walls.

Despite any standing mystery, what is well known is the value Men’s Sheds add to local communities: connecting men, improving health and wellbeing outcomes, and positively contributing to almost 1,300 vibrant and thriving communities around Australia.

The first community shed for men, ‘The Shed at Goolwa Heritage Club’, opened in Goolwa (South Australia) in February 1993.

To coincide with this 30 year milestone, the Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA) and Sheds around the country are celebrating three decades of connection, community and camaraderie this Men’s Shed Week (3 – 9 September 2023).

“The 30th anniversary of the birth of Men’s Sheds is truly significant for thousands of men and their communities,” said AMSA Executive Officer David Helmers.

30 Years of Sheds is a celebration of three decades of connection, community and camaraderie built on the shoulders of Shedders around the world,” said Mr Helmers.

Recognised as one answer to national health issues emanating from social isolation, local Sheds have evolved into community hubs and contribute to fostering community spirit from the city suburbs to regional and rural towns.

“The Men’s Shed Labrador was established in 2009 and is a key community asset for Labrador and the wider Gold Coast,” said Shed President Merv Holliday.

“The members of Men’s Shed Labrador find a place to belong at the shed, as well as participate in various community-building activities such mentoring students from Labrador State School and supporting many of the NFP organisations,” said Mr Holliday.

Men’s Shed Labrador will be hosting an event on Wednesday 6th September to celebrate Men’s Shed Week.










Social Prescribers

Thought this might be a useful topic to dwell on at the moment because they are an important support and driver for what the Sheds do.

There are some different “brands” of Social Prescriber these days. NHS Social Prescribing Link Workers came into existence in later 2019 in Whitby District with Medical Practices. There are now others – called Navigators or Support Workers etc. – that work with clients at Job Centre, in mental health charities, in specific fields of disability (like Whitby DAG to a degree). When Whitby Sheds started as SAMS in Littlebeck in 2016 we worked (and still do) with NYCC (now NYC) Living Well Team that had been set up just a few months before.

In Norton, it was the urgent need that GP Social Prescribing Link Workers had for activities to engage men that got the Norton Shed started with no premises! So one way or another we have a lot of experience in the area of joint working to help individual people typically with loneliness, isolation and anxiety needs. Most probably know this..

At the moment, the NHS Secondary Care level (hospitals) also needs to place people in activities. There is a grant programme in the NE region called Waiting Well and Norton Shed has received one or two patients from that. 

The help the NHS is looking for is “managed” volunteering and of course Sheds is essentially that and the results of many Sheds across UK and Australia is testament to volunteer support being very effective indeed. In Sheds, of course, we see all Shedders as givers and receivers of help, with Sheds essentially run by  the Shedders who come. That is a key to gradually rebuilding personal confidence.

Not everyone who comes to a Shed comes via an organisation introducing them, of course. But the insight Social Prescribers have on individuals is very important to us because it allows both a prospective Shedder and the current Shed members to evaluate the “fit” of a person and for them to understand what a Shed can or cannot do for them.

Here is what Whitby Group Practice has on their website about Social Prescribers. True of other GP practices of course.


Many things affect your health and wellbeing. GPs tell us that a lot of people visit them feeling isolated or lonely. Or they might be stressed out by work, money, and housing problems. Sometimes it is the stress of managing different long-term conditions. 

That is where social prescribing comes in. It starts with a conversation. It might be the conversation you have just had with your doctor. Or with another person in the practice team. They will refer you to a social prescribing link worker. We are here to listen to you and put you in touch with the people and/or activities that might help you to feel better. 

Your Social Prescriber can work with you to identify your non-medical needs and support you access the right services for you. We work with the patient, focusing on PERSONALISED CARE. 

Your Social Prescriber can offer support in these areas: 

  • Loneliness and Isolation
  • Housing/Hoarding/Homeless 
  • Debts, Finances and Benefit allowance 
  • Access to support group 
  • Access to activities/social groups in the community 
  • Community Transport 
  • Care providers and support within your own home 
  • Referrals to specialised support 

If you would like to speak to us, in confidence, please ask your GP, nurse practitioner or member of the surgery staff to refer you to us. 

We are available:  xxxxxx


Emboldened are the two areas that as Sheds we help in already and with various organisations as well as NHS. 

What about fit?

This is sometimes of concern to not only a patient/client and a Social Prescriber Link Worker but also to Shedders at a Shed. After all, Shedders are not carers or practitioners and are there for reasons of their own.  Balance is important. Well, we’ve surfed that question and related concerns for 8 years now

In the early days we always had social prescriber types bring people to the Shed for an introductory meeting. Nowadays they do not have time (generally speaking) but of course Prescribers and Sheds now know each other well from working together. Now it can be just a telephone call  with a little about what the persons need seems to be followed by a text with contact details to kick off a telephone conversation, a cup of coffee or an accompanied Shed visit to rapidly ascertain what is necessary to start a trial period (subject to availability). Initially it might be something as practical as how to get from home to the Shed (we cannot provide transport) . It might be physical access needs. It might be to correct ideas that the Shed is simply a hobby club,  teaching class or knit and natter group. Shedders know that Sheds are complex beasts more akin to the dynamics of working lie that is hard to pin down. Repeating a little from above, a Shedder might come as a nearly 100% receiver of help to become a 50% receiver and 50% giver (to others at the Shed). It may well go higher than that. 

How does fitting in happen?

Graham started a diagram this morning, had a conversation with a 15 year Shedder in Australia (Len some of you know from visits) and the conversation led to confirmation that the ground for newcomers has to be prepared a little as best we can to avoid pitfalls of expectations and misconceptions. There is no tick the box formula, and the individual must themselves want what a Shed can offer for them to participate in helping themselves; influenced by the experience of other Shedders  who have taken a similar journey.

Here we go in 4 pictures >

No Particular Shedder

Any Shedder comes with a past (right hand side) some of which may be quickly obvious but other aspects take time to come out in part or are never be revealed. The Shed requires nobody to deliberately open up on anything. However, some opening up helps  because most Shedders do so a little and it fosters belonging and camaraderie. “What did you used to do? is the stock question in everyday conversation of course.

Work, where a person lived and worked in the past, interests, traumas all shape  our unique lives and personalities. They are also the Velcro that connects to others – initially superficially but subsequently perhaps more deeply as the shoulder to shoulder aspect of Sheds unfolds.

Shedders often come with recent trauma that we refer to as being “at some kind of a loss”. The Shedders past may have been 50 years of marriage which ended with bereavement or 30 years of work and redundancy or illness. Thins that happen trigger loneliness, isolation, anxiety, loss of motivation and maybe hope. Why get out of bed in the morning?

The question that the Shed starts to address step by step (sometimes with a leap! is what their future holds and thus what the person wants from attending the Shed. We might beat around the bush in a telephone call but essentially what is it the person wants (and needs). Even a glimmer of the want helps. Sometimes it takes a short while to come out. It can be painful for a person but facing up to circumstances in a supportive environment of friendship may be the right way to tackle a problem like Mark or Maria! Or rather for them to tackle it.


Finding a place in the Shed

The Shed is a stable place (let’s just pretend for now!). Nice and orderly as on the left above. Each existing Shedder has a story of Past, Present and Future as does the potential newcomer. People need to shuffle around to create space (maybe literally) for a newcomer to join in. This is where some “senior” Shedders come in. Seasoned Shedders. Seasoned not just in skills with (say) wood but with making space open up for a newcomer and finding buddies for a couple of sessions. It’s like changing schools.

The buddy match may be determined by something said or some association made. It may be work background. It may be personality. It is a matter of best endeavours buddying with of course others around. Humour plays a big part.

A Shed has a past, present and (hopefully) a future

Now something important must be considered by all. The Shed itself has to be considered. See above. It’s all run by volunteers, the Shedders themselves. Sheds have a past, a present and an unfolding future. They are not static. Their shape changes over time.

A Shed develops an ethos and a shape which come from forefathers.  . Littlebeck (SAMS) was the first Shed (not anticipating others) and that project came from seeing is believing at an Australian Shed.

We learnt a lot at Littlebeck which then benefitted Whitby Town, Staithes and BayThorpe Sheds. Norton rides on the back of them all! In 8 years since founding SAMS the number of UK Sheds has multiplied nearly four fold. Each Shed takes the credit for survival.

Newcomers gradually learn what Sheds are about and it’s likely not their first perceptions. Existing Shedders must think back to how they felt when they took the Queen’s Shilling. Everybody needs to adjust without demanding rights nor closing the door to others. Sheds are not “services” but more akin to small communities or families.

We plan with cups in our hands the immediate future of next week and the dreams and visions (of older and younger) in the future and what might be achieved.

It is important  to acknowledge the support that many people and organisations have given to our Sheds (see the banner in the top article) but animals resembling Social Prescriber Link Workers of one kind or another have been very important to Shed development. They represent the voice of “not yet” Shedders (women and men) in the wheels of our Sheds. Please Shedders always show your appreciation of them and toss the occasional chocolate biscuit their way!

While appreciating Social Prescribers . . . .

. . . . as proven middlemen (woops, most are women!), we ought to appreciate those in each Shed who act as welcomers and first visit buddies looking after the interests of both a newcomer and the Shed. Who are they? might be a question from some Shedders who may not see them quietly but actively going about the inclusion role. Some might be Trustees and the recognised leader class (!) but a number simply do it without any special recognition. They are the oil in the mechanism of inclusion. Many might say “I don’t do that!” but they do. It’s simply making a first connection at a workbench, up a ladder, making the tea and the everyday stuff Sheds do.

Guys, it’s all teamwork and it mostly works!

The UK Men’s Sheds Association (UKMSA) is something else that is hidden from most Shedders but they provide massive enabling and guidance to Shed leaders in particular. Starting and nurturing a Shed can be a daunting task for anyone with no previous experience. Part of that is recognising that Sheds are charitable organisations (whether they are registered with the Charity Commission or are unregistered). The job of Sheds is to benefit as best they can people who need it – some already in the Shed but others coming as has been described above).


The Banner has arrived from Vistaprint

Ready for the Festival of Thrift but also for any of our Sheds in Whitby because it is neutral of mentioning any particular Shed.

The aim of this banner is to stress the role Sheds have as an active part of the community in which they are set. The UKMSA vertical banner has also arrived with some promotional cards and badges to wear. It is a pulling together operation in which about to launch Stockton Men’s Shed is also supporting.

The feature focuses on different aspects of the work done (best talked about at the stand with Shedders and through artefacts on the table). Central message is Together that we make a difference.

All the direct and indirect bodies Sheds relate to at one stage or another are represented. The hammer and nail has the text “Nailing it, Together”. It being the problems men and women have that creative distraction helps them to temporarily forget!



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