South Lanarkshire’s men’s shed network is set to grow to 15 with a new sheds being added to the list in Hillhouse, Strathaven and Blantyre.

Despite the coronavirus lockdown, some progress has been made in the search for premises to establish the three new groups.

On Wednesday, September 2, the council’s equal opportunities forum heard how the network in the region has grown over the last six years, including the establishment of a mobile shed three years ago and the ‘shed in a box’ initiative.

Around 600 men from Biggar to Rutherglen are registered with a shed in the region.

Christine Calder, Seniors Together manager, said the mobile shed had been decommissioned for the time being due to the coronavirus pandemic but that there were “no limits” to what the men’s shed movement can achieve.

She said: “Before we started this, there was very little opportunity for men to come together.

“Seniors Together has been supporting the development of men’s sheds for six years.

“This has now resulted in the establishment of more static sheds taking us to a new total of 12 sheds in South Lanarkshire.

“Every shed has its own individual membership with an average of 50 men registered at each.

“We can see the benefits.

“One of the things for us is long-term sustainability.”

South Lanarkshire’s ‘shed in a box’ initiative was born after “guys were hanging around, twiddling their thumbs” while waiting on funding applications to come through to set up a shed.

Also known as a “pop-up shed”, the boxes included hobby kits, tea/coffee, games, resource information packs and men’s shed leaflets to help bridge the gap so the group can get started before funding comes in.

Ms Calder added: “New funding received from the National Lottery Community Fund has allowed the Seniors Together project to develop ‘Shed in a Box’.

“This is a tool box full of the essentials required to set up a ‘pop-up’ shed. Five tool boxes are available to support fledgling sheds and are loaned to any group wishing to start meeting while waiting for funding to be awarded for their premises.

“Once funding is received, the boxes are brought back into stock for others to use.”

Through lockdown, the groups have continued to meet virtually after a number of older men were taught how to use social media and email.

Ms Calder added that they were “speaking to men about safely coming out of lockdown” and that her next task was to “start to look for more funds for the mobile project”.
Blantyre councillor Bert Thomson, chair of the forum, hailed the project as “a great success story”.

Cllr Jim McGuigan (Bothwell and Uddingston) thanked the communities involved and added that the project was “very important” in helping older men.

Hamilton West and Earnock councillor Mary Donnelly asked about progress in establishing a shed in Hillhouse.
Ms Calder said: “Even although it’s in lockdown, we have been doing work about it.”

Cllr Eric Holford (Clydesdale East) said “it would be nice to see” a wheelchair-accessible shed in Biggar however Ms Calder said there “have been problems with premises”.
Previously Biggar men’s shed were offered space with no rent in the town but that is due to end.
Ms Calder said they had been asked to “think laterally” about a new solution and that, depending on funds available, some groups had built their own sheds.

Seniors Together is a council project in association with NHS Lanarkshire which aims to improve the quality of life for older people.

Existing sheds are already placed in: Biggar and district, Carluke, Coalburn, East Kilbride, Hamilton and district, Handy Folk (Springhall, Rutherglen), Kirkmuirhill and Blackwood, Larkhall, Lesmahagow, Rutherglen and Cambuslang, Stonehouse and Uddingston.