Shed heaven: The workshops turning men’s lives around
For some men, retirement is a long-awaited chance to travel the world, hit the golf course, or take up a new hobby. For others, after decades in work, it can be a time of loneliness and isolation.
But across Scotland, a new movement is helping growing numbers of men improve their health and their mood.
Men’s Sheds have been set up across the country to enable men to come together to pursue practical interests like wood-turning and metalwork.
Age Scotland said it was in contact with 101 sheds, ranging from established projects to new initiatives and some linked to other organisations.
A new report by the charity outlines the impact the initiative has had on the lives of those who use the sheds.
In The Shed Effect, men describe why they first turned to their local shed and how it has changed their lives.
Why do people choose to go to the Men’s Sheds?
Men are often referred to the shed by their wives, said Roy Garland of Carse of Gowrie & District Men’s Shed.
"They say ‘My husband just sits at home all day. I was wondering if I could bring him along to the shed to let him see what you do?’
"Needless to say, we always invite them along and it’s surprising the amount of men that have been introduced to the shed by their wives."
Jack Ferguson retired after undergoing major heart surgery about nine years ago.
When he couldn’t go back to work, he said he was "down for about a year". He admits he was probably depressed but he was helped by Hamilton Men’s Shed.
He said: "I don’t know what the attraction was but, when I read about the men’s shed I thought, ‘I think it’d be good…just might be good’, you know.
"But fae day one I was, ‘Yes! This is it. This is what I want’."
Super shed’s health benefits for men
Tam Dagg took early retirement from his job in Jedburgh after 38 years with the same company.
"Then I was sitting around the house, semi-comatose…It was boring, you could say lonely if you can be lonely when you’re married," he said.
He learned about Hawick Men’s Shed from his daughter and finally walked through the door last December.
"I was living in Hawick but I had no friends in Hawick. I had been working in Jedburgh for 38 years. Now I’m in the shed nearly every day."
What do they do in the Men’s Sheds?
Trevor Gallon, of The Jed Shed, in Jedburgh, said they share their skills and experience.
He said: "Men in the workshop will stand side by side and they’ll be taught by somebody next to them who’ll go, ‘How about trying it this way? I’ll do that little bit for you. You do this bit’.
"Quite often to be side by side with somebody, learning what it’s all about or to be shown by somebody who’s made one before and they’re passing on a skill to you.
"Then, to me, that makes you feel a lot better. It gives you confidence. It gives you abilities that you maybe never had before. You’re pushing past your own barriers a little bit."
Mike Fairweather, of Carse of Gowrie & District Men’s Shed, said: "I think o’ things and I lie in bed at night and think o’ things. ‘What’ll I do tomorrow?’
"So, I think o’ things, and I come down and dae them…started a project maybe at the beginning of the year. I havenae finished it yet.
"I cut oot this tree trunk, eight inches wide and I sawed it through by hand, and then I drilled five holes in it, by hand, and it’s gonna be a wine rack once it’s finished. I’ve got to keep on the move.
"And I think that’s the main thing for people my age, you know, or round about my age. If they’ve nothing to do, get yourself down here and keep movin’."
And John Ross, of Gala Men’s Shed, helps other men with joinery work.
"I’m 73 now – so I’ve been working a long time, and it’s always been with wood," he said.
"My father had a joiner’s business, and my grandfather had the business before that, so it just goes on and on. My brother was a joiner, and my two nephews, they’re joiners.
"I get a lot from helping the guys, just seeing them develop, you know, like when they’re making something, all of a sudden there’s a kinda look on their face and you can see they’re enjoying this, and getting a lot from it."
Why is it such a success?
David Waterton said the informality of the project helps make The Jed Shed work.
"You can come when you want to come, you know," he said. "There’s no pressure on anybody to come all the time if you’ve got a day when you don’t feel like it, or you’ve got something else on.
"Making it more formal would take a lot away from it. I think the informal thing, a lot of the time, is what the guys like.
"That older member is in most days. He just pops in for a cup of tea and a chat with some of the guys he knows and then just goes away again, or sometimes he’ll pop upstairs and just hang about for an hour."
And according to Geoff Allison, of Dalbeattie Men’s Shed, the men all have one thing in common.
"We’re guys plootering about in a shed, but we’re just doing it somewhere larger scale," he said.
"That’s what it’s about. We’re doing ‘men things’. We all have CTAS – Compulsive Tool Acquisition Syndrome!"
For some, it could even be a life-saver.
Joe Scott was in the "doldrums" when he had to take early retirement after suffering a stroke.
He felt like he was a "waste of time" and he would be "better off out of the road", but the Gala Men’s Shed turned his life around, he said.
"Aye it’s probably saved my life, or at least my sanity," he said.