Life can get lonely when you are a retired man, according to 66-year-old former IT manager Peter Gallagher.
Now, in a bid to try to change that, he is helping form a new social group with a difference in Aylesbury – Men In Sheds.
It might have an unusual name, but the gentlemen-only club’s remit is simple – help pals who would otherwise be sat at home to make new friends and learn new skills.
Peter said: “Often men, when they retire, can lose the social contact they had through work.
“The underlying thing about Men In Sheds is to have fun.
“It’s getting together with guys, having a chat, doing a job together, having cups of tea and engaging with fellas and enjoying it.”
Members of the Aylesbury club are known as Shedders and the first meeting took place on Friday at the Queens Park Arts Centre.
It was overseen by members of the Milton Keynes club, including chairman Peter.
Examples of projects that the Shedders will undertake include using woodwork skills to build furniture and sandpits for school playgrounds. Creating wooden bases to plant trees in to can brighten up communities is also on the agenda.
The Milton Keynes club only started in March and now boasts 40 members. It is currently getting four or five new enquiries each week.
Peter says he is unsurprised by the interest, joking: “There is also what I call the Velvet Slipper, the wife or partner behind them that wants a bit of free space.”
He notes that when he mans information stands it is often women who pick up leaflets for their husbands or drag their partners over and ask questions on their behalf.
“Many retired men have enough to do, they have social commitments, sports or other hobbies,” he explained.
“But there is a selection of people that probably haven’t found that fulfilment and it gives then an opportunity.
“We do have a chap who comes in a mobility scooter and he describes it as being life changing.
“He and his wife had been searching around to find some avenue for him, but they just couldn’t find anything.
“For some of the men it means a great deal because maybe they have a health issue and spend most of their time at home. So one of the benefits is just getting out the house.”
Each week members decide what projects they wish to undertake and the Milton Keynes club is currently building model aeroplanes with a 6ft wingspan.
“The guys come from all walks of life, they are professional fellas, engineers or were in commerce,” said Peter.
“There’s a fantastic mix of people and they each bring skills to the shed.
“We are learning from each other and picking up new skills.”
Project worker Samantha Hardy is helping to set up the Aylesbury Men In Sheds club.
She said: “The idea originally came from Australia, where they set up the first Men In Sheds project which was aimed at reducing social isolation in men.”
“There are a lot of groups just for women, but not as many for men.
“It is their project, we are there to support them.
“It’s an opportunity for them to be social and share company whilst being productive.”
The idea spread first came to the UK when a club was formed in Ireland. Since then Shedders have popped up around the country.
Bucks County Council worker Jackie Wesley had the idea of bringing the club to Aylesbury and she helped set up last week’s first meeting with help from Aylesbury Vale District Council, the Vale Of Aylesbury Housing Trust and Community Impact Bucks.
The Aylesbury shed is open to men of all ages, but is expected to mostly attract those who have retired. For details call Samantha Hardy at Community Impact Bucks on 01844 348831 or email firstname.lastname@example.org