Like all people, men like to continue to be productive and contribute to those around them once in retirement age. A men’s shed provides a place for men to talk and contribute, where practical skills and knowledge can be shared.
All sheds are different, some like to do woodwork, whereas others can be more outgoing and like to contribute their time to helping the local community. Whatever your shed does, the shed experience will improve your wellbeing by keeping physically, mentally and socially active.
There are five steps to setting a men’s sheds:
STEP 1 : Hold an information evening
To test the level of interest among local men in setting up a shed, organising an information meeting is a great way to start. You can do this by talking to a few friends or local people you know will be interested in helping to get you started. Once they’re onboard, you can start organising an information meeting. There are a few things to consider:
- Location – Where will you hold the meeting?
- Agenda – What will you talk about? The structure is important here.
- Invitations and advertising – How will you let people know about the meeting? Flyers, social media post are some ideas to think about.
- Running the meeting – Bill the meeting as ‘would you be interested in setting up and/or being part of a men’s shed? Don’t commit until you know there’s clear and tangible interest.
STEP 2 : Form a working group
For the shed to become established, a core group of individuals will be needed to get through the early stages of development. Appointing a working group with clearly defined roles and responsibilities ensures that the workload is shared and that a common sense of purpose emerges over time. It is important that the members of the working group remain accountable to the Shed membership at all times.
You may wish to use a different title for the group like a Management or Steering Committee, whichever you choose, the most important thing is that the purpose, roles and responsibilities are clear to everyone. Individuals could volunteer for these roles, could be nominated and seconded by other members or you could have an election with individuals having a 2 minute slot to explain what each can bring to the work and why anyone should vote for them.
STEP 3 : Visit other sheds
Once you have a group involved you’ll want to figure what type of Shed will best respond to
the members’ needs. A perfect way to do this is to visit a number of other Sheds. There are now over 400 registered sheds in Ireland so you should find one relatively close by.
Meeting people who have already travelled the road you are setting out on will be very informative and could help you to avoid some potential obstacles along the route. As all sheds are different, you’ll see a number of activities being carried out. You’ll see anything from a number of men restoring furniture for a nursing home or putting new life into disused bicycles for a local school, or maybe fixing lawn mowers. You might also see younger and older men learning new skills from each other as well as sharing life experiences.
Sheds across the country have all sorts of different activities going on so be inspired, get some ideas and don’t be afraid to come up with your own ideas for what you want your shed to be!
STEP 4 : Find a suitable premises
To ensure the sustainability of your shed, finding rent-free premises is critical. Most sheds across the country have managed to find one so don’t be afraid to start looking!
The most important asset to have when looking for ‘a rent-free premises’ is patience. It is easy to find premises if you are willing to pay commercial levels of rent and the group of men may become disillusioned if suitable premises are not identified quickly. However, it’s good to remember that the project you are setting up may last for several years and a little patience and persistence in the early stages may bring immense rewards in the years to come. Some Sheds have ‘caretaker agreements’ with their landlords where the men from the shed look after the building or surrounding area instead of paying rent. At this stage most of the Sheds in Ireland are in a low or no-rent situation. Paying commercial rents for a premises is unsustainable for a men’s shed unless they are in receipt of higher levels of funding support.
Contact our team if you’ve any questions on looking for a premises – we’re here to help!
STEP 5 : Planning and Registering
Once you’ve found your premises and you have a small group of men ready to get started it makes sense for the group to think about the answers to these three questions:
- What are we trying to achieve here and for whom?
- Why do we wish to do this?
- How will be go about this work?
The answers to these questions will shape the running of your shed and inform your mission and vision statement. IMSA has a number of smaple of documents that may be of use to you in setting up your shed, if you’d like a copy of these, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registering with IMSA
There are over 450 registered Men’s Sheds in Ireland and new sheds are registering with IMSA at the rate of one every week. IMSA’s work includes hosting regular events that give the Shedders opportunities to network with each other and share ideas. If you’d like to register, please contact our team at email@example.com or phone 01 891 6150 for your application pack.