Men’s sheds chiming with wellbeing

11 December 2021
UK Mens Shed Association - Gus tells a joke

By Andy Ryland

Anyone who has been to see blacksmithing or been into a Men’s Shed may have heard the sound of the hammering of hot metal or nails being banged into timber.

What I have noticed, is that a blacksmith develops a rhythm to his/her work and when the metal is reaching its perfect shape, it will have a ring or a sound like the chiming of a bell. It is as though the blacksmith is playing a musical instrument as they work.

However, the CHIME of wellbeing in a Men’s Shed that I am referring to is something different and in fact, are happy men at work.

You see CHIME is an acronym for a way to promote wellbeing, which is used by professionals to support people as they improve their mental wellbeing.

The letters in CHIME stand for the following:

Connectedness in particular being connected to other people in positive ways, characterised by peer support and supportive friendships. In my view, this is very much what men’s sheds are about; connecting with others and doing things together. Whether that is working on a project to get the shed going in the first place or working with other members to build a community project such as a storytelling chair for the village school.

Hope is something that can be lost when life bowls a googly, perhaps a result of a divorce, death of a partner, or loss of employment. Yet working and being with others can give hope as you hear stories of how they have overcome difficulties and life has got better. In the word of Captain Tom Moore, “Tomorrow will be a good day”.

Identity refers to a positive sense of self. This can be lost on retirement or redundancy and men’s sheds can help to fill that gap, particularly if the person concerned has a role they can fulfil. However, care is needed that this does not become a way to exclude or dominate others.

Meaning is defined by the person (not others) and refers to having found a meaningful purpose in life. A shed can give an opportunity to develop or express this. For instance; working on the project to develop the shed, sharing skills, working on community projects, and being part of a team.

Empowerment. Redundancy, ill health, and retirement can strip a person of the control that someone has over their lives. It may undermine their strengths and take away some of the responsibilities they may have had at one time. Being part of a shed can give that back as it can give an opportunity for someone to express their strengths and, with the encouragement and support of others, regain control over their lives and take responsibility.