Through support from the Maudsley Charity, Bethlem Royal Hospital’s Occupational Therapy Department has been able to fund a Men’s Shed, part of an international movement to create spaces for men to meet. The aim is to reduce loneliness and isolation, and importantly, to have fun.
‘We opened in October and currently we have three volunteers and five referrals. Our group is called ‘Shedders’ and we are members of the UK Men’s Shed Association,‘ explains Chris Oldfield, Project Manager.
Supporting men’s health through creative occupation
‘The movement began in Australia where the therapeutic value and benefit of men having this type of space began to be recognised. The movement has since grown worldwide. Our project is focusing on men’s health through meaningful occupation. We are open to referrals from inpatients at the hospital, outpatients and service users living in the community.’
One user said: ‘After participating in the Occupational Therapy (OT) woodwork class on Thursdays, I was invited to join the Bethlem Community Men’s Shed. I jumped at the opportunity to work alongside skilled craftsmen and learn new woodworking skills to add to the ones I’d already learnt.
‘I approached my first session with a mix of excitement and worry. Any worries dissipated after the first five minutes of arriving. The volunteers and staff were welcoming, encouraging, supportive and extremely patient.’
‘Woodwork helps to calm me’
‘The shed is a very fun and relaxed environment and I am thoroughly enjoying being part of it. As a suffer of OCD, woodwork has been a brilliant external focus for me, and it helps to calm me as well as provide a great sense of achievement.’
Chris continues: ‘The Maudsley Charity funding has created a valuable turning point in our service, we can now offer more opportunities by maximising use of our facilities, not only for in-patients, but also service users living in the community.
‘We now have a dedicated group of Shedders made up of staff, new volunteers and participants with a wealth of experience to share, as well as the opportunity to enhance the health benefits of occupation. We are also able to upgrade our facilities and equipment which is improving the service for everyone who uses the OT workshop.
‘Our Shedders are currently producing good quality bird nesting boxes for sale at £14.99 each. They are an RSPB design made from solid wood and treated with non-toxic preservative. They are ideal gifts and an interesting addition to gardens. All proceeds from sales go toward the Shed project.’
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for orders, sales and further information about the project.
Images reproduced with kind permission from Abu Khan.
Without support from donations, service users at South London and Maudsley would have less access to innovative services like the Men’s Shed. Get involved today and help support life-changing projects at SLaM.