We have recently secured funding that will enable us to expand our very successful tool refurbishment project to a second location in Fife. The Tool Shed project is part of the UK wide Men’s Shed Association which had its national launch in London on 6th November.
UK wide Men’s Sheds is a growing movement in the UK which has its roots in Australia where there are over 1,000 Sheds open. The project grew out of the idea of the ‘shed at the bottom of the garden’ with its overall purpose being to bring men together in a practical activity with a purpose, and in doing so, improve their overall health and wellbeing. Three years ago there were just 5 Sheds open in the UK, today, that number stand at 55. Jo Hobbett, Projects Manager here at The Ecology Centre and a founding committee member of the UK Men’s Shed Association commented “Older men in particular can feel socially isolated and need meaningful volunteering opportunities where they can connect ‘shoulder to shoulder’ rather than face to face.”
At The Ecology Centre, aside from the health, wellbeing and social benefits, there is a very practical side to The Tool Shed. For one, there is the opportunity for cross generation working as older volunteers pass on their skills to young unemployed volunteers making younger people more work ready. Another is the hundreds of old tools that have been refurbished and saved from landfill. There are also the many local and international projects that benefit from the refurbished tools. To date, The Ecology Centre has shipped out 12 full tool kits to communities in Africa through Tools for Self Reliance and donated tools to many schools and community groups in Fife.
What has been achieved in the The Tool Shed is a great sense of pride for the men involved. Comments made by Henry and Neil, long term volunteers at The Centre, include “This project makes me feel like I am giving something back” and “It’s good to get out of the house and do something different”.
Our second “Men’s Shed” will be located at Brag Enterprise in Crosshill, Fife and is scheduled to start up in January 2014. The project has funding to employ a new part-time supervisor who will engage with local people to find out what activities we could run that would best meet the needs of the wider community.