Scottish Government U-turns on men’s sheds funding cut

Scottish minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said funding would be provided for this financial year

The Scottish Government has U-turned on a decision to cease funding for Scotland’s largest men’s mental health charity.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, the social justice secretary, confirmed support would be provided to the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association (SMSA) for this financial year. It follows warnings the charity, which works with 10,000 members across more than 200 independent sheds, faced being wound down.

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The first men’s shed was set up more than a decade ago in Aberdeenshire to offer a place for men to socialise and learn new skills, and the facilities have been widely praised for their impact on mental health.

Shirley-Anne SomervilleShirley-Anne Somerville
Shirley-Anne Somerville

Jason Schroeder, the charity’s chief executive, previously told The Sunday Post: “We’ve got enough funding for about nine or ten months and then we’ll be looking at winding up. That will mean the more than 200 groups lose all their support and all the new groups that are starting will have no support.”

Responding to a question in Holyrood from Labour MSP Paul O’Kane, Ms Somerville said: "The Scottish Government has provided £795,000 worth of funding to the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association since 2016, supporting the movement to grow from five sheds to 200 across Scotland.

"We understand it’s a very challenging time for small organisations and that the SMSA are working to secure funding from charity donors and from the private sector.

"Given this, I can confirm today that we will work with the organisation to identify and to provide the funding for this financial year to ensure that we support them in the months ahead to develop broad, sustainable support for this important national organisation, and we hope this will help to avoid future uncertainty and assist local sheds to flourish.”

Mr O'Kane called on the Scottish Government to look at longer-term funding options.

However, Ms Somerville said “permanent core funding to every third-sector organisation that would benefit from this potentially is not possible”. She said support remained available for local sheds.

The latest U-turn is the second time the Government has reversed a funding cut to SMSA. Its support for the charity was previously scrapped in 2022 and only reinstated following an outcry.



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