To: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney
Scottish Men’s Sheds – Call for Men’s Health Support
In a post-pandemic world, when reducing social isolation and loneliness and reconnecting with our communities once again is paramount, the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association (SMSA) is making a call for action for the government to continue to financially support the national hub of the Scottish Men’s Sheds Movement and men’s health and wellbeing.
The SMSA was formed in 2014 to create a new national health movement for men which did not previously exist in Scotland and share their unique Men’s Shed development pathway strategy to new groups. Since 2016, the Association has expanded into: Shed-specific tailored information such as policies and constitutions; mediation support; consultation with a hard-to-reach group; promotion of the work of the sector; discounts from SMSA partners for Sheds to reduce costs; sustainability strategy advice; co-production for the voice of men’s health in a variety of sectors and Cross-Party groups; and a national membership programme for its Shed Members and 3,000+ Individual Members.
The SMSA’s initial start-up funding was received from the Scottish Government in 2016 but unlike the successful developmental statutory support of the Australian and Irish governments for their respective Men’s Shed movements, ours has been reduced over the years and now stopped.
We have been successful in attracting other funders in recent years to cover this shortfall however require statutory funding as the demand for services and support increases immensely. Despite a meeting with Scottish Government where the SMSA Chief Executive, SMSA Chairman and SMSA Patron, Sir Harry Burns (the former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland) appealed for increased support for the charity and the movement, the decision was unfortunately made in February 2022 by three Ministers (proposed new trilateral funding strategy) to rather stop all statutory funding to the SMSA going forward in 2023.
Now is not the time to abandon and disinvest in this successful men’s health movement that is voluntarily engaging with and reaching men and changing and saving lives. These volunteers need our support now more than ever as evidenced by the ever-increasing growth in our membership.
As we near the 10-year anniversary of the opening of the first Men’s Shed in Scotland, we now celebrate over 200 open and developing Men’s Sheds groups across Scotland (in all 32 local authority areas) reaching and supporting 10,000+ men aged 18 or over. This year, we also welcomed the completion and findings of our four-year partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University’s research (£150,000) - Sheds for Sustainable Development Project (www.gcu.ac.uk/research/researchcentres/yunuscentre/research/communitycitizenshipandparticipation/sustainablesheds)
Our three-year development plans (2023-2026) have taken into account this research and core statutory developmental funding is required if the movement is to not only continue to grow but remain sustainable for its volunteers and their health and wellbeing. We strongly believe that the current number of Men’s Sheds in Scotland (202) has only reached just under half (45%) of what it could be.
We, the undersigned, ask the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Scotland to take action to ensure the SMSA has the core funding required to meet the needs of this thriving men’s health movement in Scotland and to create a start-up and development fund, as per our manifesto (www.scottishmsa.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/SMSA-Manifesto-2021.pdf), to offer to new and existing Men’s Sheds across the nation.
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With an alarming rise in suicide amongst Scottish men - 75% of the people who died by suicide in Scotland last year were male – and with already-stretched resources and reduced funding as demand for our services increases, the SMSA is lobbying for a directional change to ensure the charity is around to support future generations of Shedders and keep the spotlight on men’s health.
The SMSA pledges to continue making a real difference by empowering thousands of men (our sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and grandfathers) and their communities - over the coming years - to play their part in a system change towards a wellbeing economy.
By trailblazing this male health movement as we have from the beginning, we strive for social change to ultimately secure its future growth and the national statutory investment it rightly deserves.
Kinross and District Men’s Shed’s Chairman David Conner said: “The SMSA has been a wonderful support and a great centre of information and advice. Without the SMSA, it is safe to say, we and some other local Sheds would not exist without their help steering us in the right direction—through the obstacles and bureaucracy that is thrown at you especially when starting something new— and enabling us to become self-sufficient.”
Member Mike Kelly said: "Having a central driving force has been a huge asset to both new and established sheds. This is part of why men's sheds have been so successful in Scotland."
#menssheds #menswellbeing #menshealth #menmatter #shedicine #nevermoreneeded