Opinion column with Graham Storer

A She-Shed is finally launching and should prove to be a great success.
A She-Shed is finally launching and should prove to be a great success.

Sometimes it grabs the headlines as happened recently with the outspoken senior judge.

Other times it is in the background and slips past attention which was the case for me last week until I picked it up in brief items on the radio.

What I heard did not seem to lead on mental health but on obesity which affects more than a third of US adults.

Fair enough – we have the same concern in UK.

However, obesity as such was not the main point but a study by Brigham Young University concluding that loneliness and social isolation are even bigger threats to health than obesity.

The risk of premature death may be raised by 50%.

Other studies suggest that loneliness and social isolation are linked to poor health, even Alzheimer’s and breast cancer survival rates.

Loneliness and social isolation are terms used almost interchangeably but there is a difference. Social isolation is lack of contact with other people (e.g. being house bound).

Loneliness is an emotional feeling of disconnection even in the presence of others.

Either way, it may feel like being caged, unable to spread wings, let alone fly!

People crave their former independence, but that seems just a dream. Well, don’t give up on the dream!

“Most people we help need time, acceptance and support to get back on track. Hiding away is rarely an answer.” [SWR MIND]

Sleights Area Men’s Shed (SAMS) opened in Littlebeck in early 2016 with aims similar to those expressed by MIND, an antidote to loneliness.

The Shed has grown from half a dozen Shedders to around 20 each week.

SAMS has benefitted from working with agencies including NYCC Wellbeing Whitby, NHS Anchorage and Whitby Carers’ Resource.

The service SAMS Men’s Shed offers is of great benefit to both carers and the cared for, as it helps to reduce their isolation, improves new and old skills and gives them something to look forward to.

Caring about carers has been a part of SAMS from the start. Now there is a link with a local care home too.

“Our two Shedders have had their horizons widened by SAMS. They come back beaming. We encourage residents to attend outside activities if they can. It makes a big difference to their quality of life.” [Esk Hall Care Home]

SAMS has played its part in tackling loneliness of men.

Sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose.

Women came to the Shed and enjoyed it. Consideration of a Women’s Shed in Whitby began nine months’ ago and it is finally launching.

A She-Shed will not suit all, but SAMS has shown that tackling unfamiliar activities is absorbing and distracts from everyday concerns.

Why would it not work for women as well as men? Why should it not be equally fun?

Well, the proof of the pudding will be in the next few months. Please look at www.sleights-area- mens-shed.org.uk and www.whitby-womens- shed.org.uk.