Grantham Journal Big Interview: Foundations are laid for Men’s Shed in town

The public meeting looking into setting up a Men's Shed in Grantham.
The public meeting looking into setting up a Men's Shed in Grantham.
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A new group which helps men socialise and learn new skills looks likely to be set up in Grantham following a successful meeting last week. Sue Kinder, president of the Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven, is promoting the Men’s Shed as her main charity. She tells the Journal about the idea and how it is progressing.

How did the idea of a Men’s Shed come about in Grantham?

Sue Kinder, President of the Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven, with John Leigh, at the Men's Shed public meeting in Grantham.

Sue Kinder, President of the Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven, with John Leigh, at the Men's Shed public meeting in Grantham.

The Men’s Shed idea came about following a conversation with a work colleague. I am employed as a specialist nurse for Lincolnshire Community Health services and my colleague Jess Evans (district nurse) asked where the local Men’s Shed was. She had recently moved from Scotland to work in Lincolnshire and advised that the Men’s Shed initiative was up and going in Scotland. She wanted to be able to recommend the Men’s Shed to patients who were isolated and would benefit from an informal workshop. This year I was elected as club president of the GK Rotary club and so it seemed like a good idea to use it as my main charity.

What is the purpose of a Men’s Shed and how can it benefit those involved?

A shed is where men come to take part in physical and mental activity to benefit themselves and the community, interact socially and have a laugh. The reason why they are needed is that it is difficult to get men involved in groups; women form the backbone of most community activities and initiatives. Basically, men don’t chat, they rub shoulder to shoulder. It is accepted that men are far more difficult to reach and to participate in organised groups, than are women. Loneliness and isolation (which may follow retirement, bereavement, redundancy etc) have the potential to lead to depression, which in turn can result in illnesses, both physical and mental. What a shed provides is a friendly place where existing skills can be shared or new ones learned. Where the individual decides in which activities they will participate; or perhaps to sit, chat and enjoy the company.

Many men enjoy using their own shed where they repair or tinker with machinery or build things on their own. However, there are groups where men are the majority, woodturners for example. They get ideas from each other and inspire each other. Swing these facts around and you have a communal shed that can be a centre for many activities that appeal to men. The benefits of a shed have been researched most famously by Professor Barry Golding from Australia. The research has found that it is a positive mental and physical health measure. One that brings men together, restores their personal esteem, and stops them rotting away at home.

The sheds also help the local communities, for example the Louth Shed has made planters, bird feeders and furniture for local schools, businesses and the local church. They were established in 2015 and there are 20 ‘shedders’ aged between 21 and 87 and the group hopes to expand to over 50.

There are more than 1,000 sheds now. For more information the website has details at www.menssheds.org

The Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven hosted a meeting last week to establish a Men’s Shed. What kind of response did you get and what was the outcome of the meeting?

The meeting was very positive and 22 people in total attended our meeting. The majority of attendees were men and we were very lucky to have John Leigh to facilitate the meeting. John set up the Collingham Men’s Shed which is featured on a clip of the video ‘Better Shed than Dead’ which was also shown at the meeting. We also had some fellow Rotarians from GK and Grantham Sunrise Rotary Club and Brian Hanbury from Grantham Foodbank.

The objective for our public meeting was to gauge public interest and to get feedback from the attendees. We provided a questionnaire to get thoughts and opinions on the need for a shed and to find volunteers for the steering group. There was a real buzz at the meeting and it was obvious that there was a great interest in a shed in Grantham plus men willing to support the initiative in Grantham. It was also obvious from the questionnaire the huge amount of skills and expertise of the potential volunteers which is an excellent start. As a Rotary club we want to tap into those skill sets and be facilitators rather than setting the aims and objectives of the Grantham Men’s Shed. It is important that the ‘shedders’ take ownership and grow the concept of the shed; to run the shed as they want it.

Our next task is to get more publicity and to find 
premises. We also need to set up a constitution and put 
together a business plan 
etc.

After a successful meeting you are now looking for premises to host the Men’s Shed. What kind of premises are you looking for and if anybody can help how can they contact you?

Ideally we would like to have access to premises in Grantham. Any premises will be looked at, preferably a decent size, possibly for free or peppercorn rent. The condition is not too important as hopefully the ‘shedders’ will have the skills needed to make it habitable.

Historically, there are many different types of buildings that may be used as a shed. In some areas sheds have been set up in hard-to-let shop premises, redundant premises or where there may be a reciprocal arrangement. The www.menssheds.org website gives examples of premises. If possible we would like men to be able to access premises easily and to have an area to make tea and coffee, plus access to toilet facilities. We would also like to have enough space for woodworking benches, although if a property need some internal structural repair, it may be a potential project. It would be great to hear from local businessmen who may be able to help us. If there are any offers of help please contact

sue.kinder@tesco.net or the Grantham Kestevan Rotary club (we meet at the Urban Hotel every Wednesday evening 7pm for 7.30pm ).

What are your hopes for the future of the Men’s Shed in Grantham?

We hope to get this essential service up and running to meet the needs of the local community. We hope to get our Grantham shed up and running before the proposed Spalding and Lincoln Men’s Sheds. Grantham is an engineering town and as such there is so much untapped resource in respect to skills of the local people. It would be so beneficial to the people of Grantham (such as those unemployed or needing help to overcome mental or physical illness) to have a resource such as this in our community.