Opening a door to tackle isolation and maintain health

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, reducing loneliness, isolation and importantly to have fun.

“We opened in October and currently we have three volunteers and five referrals. The Group of us are called ‘Shedders’ and we are members of the UK Men’s Shed Association.” explains Chris Oldfield, Project Manager.

“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 focussing on Men’s health through meaningful occupation.”

Access is an important part of the project; we are open to referrals from inpatients at the hospital, outpatients and service user’s living in the community.

One user said: “After participating in the Occupational Therapy 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 slight worry that I would be up to the challenge. Any worries dissipated after the first five minutes of arriving. The volunteers and staff were welcoming, encouraging, supportive and extremely patient.

“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 really valuable turning point in our service, we can now give 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 now also able to improve and upgrade our facilities and equipment which is inevitably 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 and made from solid wood and treated with non-toxic preservative. They are ideal gifts and an interesting addition to gardens.  All proceeds from sales and commissions go toward the Shed.”

Please contact christopher.oldfield@slam.nhs.uk  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 far less access to innovative extra services like the Men’s Shed. Get involved today and help support life-changing projects at SLaM.