A Men’s Shed is being set up for the local area, giving men a space to use new tools, create items for the community, share knowledge, and most importantly socialise and build new friendships. 

The idea came from the previous rector at St Mary’s Church, as a result of conversations with local councils and some mental health organisations, who saw it as something that St Mary’s could be a catalyst for. He put an advert in the local newsletter to engage interested people in the community, and half a dozen men met with the new curate in the local pub to discuss and plan for the Shed.

Steve Clark is one of the men who is involved in setting up and participating in the shed. After being a vicar for four decades, he has observed that, “men are not really good at finding ways of being together,” and that they find it harder to have deep conversations, especially while not doing an activity. 

Clark is enthusiastic about the concept of a Men’s Shed “because it’s a place where blokes feel they can meet, with friendships likely to be formed and conversations growing from the mundane and practical to deep.” He remembers a craft group called the “Tuesday Group” from a past parish who had such a reputation for welcome and support that local health visitors advised it for new mothers with post-natal depression, and it helped many people move forward from a “very dark place”. Clark believes that the Shed could have a similarly positive impact on the community, saying, “I see Sheds as a place where we could develop a reputation for being welcoming, compassionate and non judgemental.”

Already the Shed, currently based in Madingley, has been successful, with new friendships forming and a number of projects underway for the Shed to make for the community. For example, Toft Parish Council has requested bird boxes to be made, and some Shed members are renovating outdoor play blocks for a local school. 

Across the world and nation the number of Sheds is growing as people are realising the benefits of the scheme. And these aren’t just limited to wood or metalwork- there are sheds specialising in a wide range of skills, including a Norfolk Shed that mends bikes, and Sheds specialising in gardening, computing and electronics. This scheme has been a resounding success, with 76% of people feeling less anxious after joining a Men’s Shed, and the new local Shed is on track to add to the social connection, sharing of knowledge and creation of community.