Help Available For Rural Men's ShedsWomen have understood the benefit of getting together in groups for years – the Women’s Institute (WI) and Mothers’ Union are just two organisations which are testimony to this. Now there’s a growing movement which is bringing the same sense of community to men – the Men’s Shed movement.

Hampshire County Council wants to hear from individuals or groups of men who are interested in setting up Men’s Sheds in rural areas of the county as they may be eligible for support from the County Council’s Rural Development Fund.

Councillor Rob Humby, Hampshire County Council’s Rural Affairs Champion, said: “We have already supported a number of schemes aimed at reducing isolation among older people in rural communities and providing access to information and services which can help. The Village Agent scheme and Hitting the Cold Spots project are examples of this. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Men’s Sheds are also an excellent way of combating isolation and improving the health and wellbeing of retired/older men.

“It can be difficult as you get older if you have been used to working for many years and this changes. Apart from the routine and responsibilities which go with work people often find they miss the camaraderie of colleagues and can feel isolated at home. Men’s Sheds provide the space to meet with others and the opportunity for men to use their skills in a positive way and often for the wider community benefit.”

The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia and is already expanding in Hampshire. The latest one to open its doors is in Andover at Enham Alamein with 35 members who come from all walks of life and range in age from 50 to 79. The group has had support from Enham Trust, Test Valley Borough Council and Aster Group.

Sam Plummer the Enham Men’s Shed vice-chair explains the difference the Shed makes to members lives: “Women have lots of groups they can belong to but there’s not so much for men. Our members can come along and do anything they want from simply meeting and chatting with others to woodworking or using their skills in the community. We have done gardening and other small jobs for people who can’t manage to do things themselves. We also have social occasions such as going to the driving range and then out for a pub lunch. Coming to the shed gives us all a great positive feeling. It’s much better than sitting at home doing nothing!”

Anyone wanting information and advice on setting up a shed in a rural area and how to fund it should contact the County Council at wellbeing@hants.gov.uk .

For more information about Andover Men’s Shed email sam-plummer@hotmail.co.uk or brian.cooke@hotmail.co.uk

The Men’s Shed movement is recognised in the UK for helping reduce social isolation and improving the health and wellbeing of retired men by health professionals, charities such as Age UK and local authorities.

Polly has almost 20 years in the media industry. As Editor of Andover and Villages, she strives to bring the latest and greatest news with a minutes notice. Polly can be contacted via editor@andoverandvillages.co.uk or alternatively called at