Men's Shed movement issues plea after Scottish Government funding withdrawn

The Men’s Shed movement is calling on the Scottish Government to reverse a “devastating” decision to withdraw funding from next year.

Chief executive Jason Schroeder said he was “gobsmacked” by the move and felt like he had been “sucker punched”.

Thousands of men benefit from more than 200 Men’s Sheds across Scotland. The facilities offer community spaces for men to connect and develop new hobbies, with the aim of reducing loneliness and isolation.

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The Government has provided £570,000 towards the scheme since 2014, with £75,000 provided this year.

The Men's Shed movement has sounded the alarm after funding was withdrawn. Picture: Torsten Blackwood/AFP via Getty Images

But the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association (SMSA) said a decision was taken in February to “stop all statutory funding” going forward in 2023.

SMSA chief executive Jason Schroeder told the Press and Journal: “We were all gobsmacked at the decision. We got the letter, but it just doesn’t make sense.

“I felt like I had been sucker punched. We had been working with the Government for all these years. The men are all volunteers. The impact on our families is devastating.”

An online petition states: “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 statement adds: “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.”

Kinross and district Men’s Shed’s chairman David Conner said: “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.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said funding for Men’s Sheds had helped the movement grow from five sheds in 2013 to more than 200 today. She said: "The £75,000 provided by Scottish Government this financial year will help the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association build further success as they continue to develop their business model and new funding partners come on board.”

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