What a brilliant idea!! A chance for men to work together and form friendships. Men’s mental health is not always discussed openly but it is an issue. Loss of purpose on retirement, friendships formed through your partner, lack of social activities aimed at men in rural areas – these can all lead to feelings of isolation.
Here we have an international movement helping men’s mental health & wellbeing, Men’s Sheds! a brilliant and simple idea. It can be so much easier to voice and share problems shoulder to shoulder with other men, working on a joint project.
The movement began in Australia when men realised the value of coming together around practical tasks on a regular basis, particularly when they had a designated place or workshop where tools and work in progress could be stored. The first Men’s Shed in England was opened by Age Concern in Hartford in 2009. Now there are nearly 300 helping men’s mental health & wellbeing in the UK.
This link takes you to the Men’s Shed page and you can search for your nearest Shed. In East Anglia there are currently 20, with 9 more in the pipeline.
Henry from Poringland Men’s Shed says “It’s all about guys working together and forming friendships. Men tend not to have the social networks that women have. We talk better shoulder to shoulder whilst working together, than face to face”. The Poringland & District Men’s Shed Team work with South Norfolk Council as a recycling hub and are about to paint Arminghall Village Hall.
Which brings us to the other great thing about Men’s Shed’s, they will try to fix anything. So if you have something that needs fixing but is not economical to mend – try taking it along to your local Men’s Shed!
I was recently in a meeting talking to a ‘Handyman’. This particular gent works for Broadland District Council and told me it can be hard to get the message out. To tell people there is a subsidised / free service for older people, to support independent living and staying safe at home.
Six of the Seven Norfolk District Councils offer the Service supporting Independent Living
So I looked into it. Six of the seven District Councils in Norfolk offer a Handyperson Service (Breckland Council doesn’t). Eligibility and cost vary slightly over the rest of Norfolk but the remit is the same. If you are elderly and need a small job doing in your home your local HandyPerson service can help you. This could be fitting grab rails, putting up shelves or installing a keysafe. Maybe fitting an access ramp, moving heavy furniture or fixing leaking tap.
South Norfolk District Counciloffer their Handyman Service to everyone (any age) for £20 / hr, subsidized if you are over 65. Norwich City Council’sHandy Van Scheme is only for over 65’s and charges £15 / hr. This is the same as Broadland D.C.s Handy Person +, although these also offer signposting and information as part of their service. North Norfolk D.C. use the Benjamin Foundation to deliver their scheme, Ben’s Workforce, to the over 65’s.
Adaptations may become necessary as you grow older. If you think you need some home adaptations, contact your local council and ask for an assessment by an occupational therapist (OT). The assessment is free.
Don’t forget to hold of Contact Care to get a lifeline alarm!
Here in Norfolk, most of the District Council offer a Handyperson Service if you are over 65 and wish to make minor repairs or adaptations to your home. The Handyperson Service provides subsidised rates including up to two hours free labour on a means-tested benefit. For further information read Contact Care’s article on Independent Living in Norfolk and the Handyman Service)
Small home adaptations that can help are:
installing grab rails in a bathroom or by the front door
adding a bath seat or electric bath lift
fitting a second banister on a staircase
Also consider equipping yourself with:
riser-recliner chair (much less strain on arms and wrists)
alternatively (and cheaper) you can raise your armchair higher from the ground
walking frame (no shame, they really help)
trolley (excellent for carrying your cup of tea and cake through to the lounge)
perching stools in your kitchen or shower (great for use at the sink, ironing etc.)
lifeline alarm (it’s there with, you just in case..)
kitchen aids like kettle tippers, easy-open can openers, adapted cutlery
Larger home adaptations:
installing a downstairs bathroom
fitting a stairlift
lowering worktops in the kitchen
installing outdoor stair rails or a ramp
Here you may want to ask your local council about grants. Most Councils offer a Disabled Facilities Grant (means tested) towards the cost of making changes to your home. They may also be able to put you in touch with other grants funds available.
Contact Care Telecare Service: supporting Independent Living