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March 2, 2021

Fund it, don’t own it

When the Christie Commission on the future delivery of public services published its report a decade ago, it was universally welcomed. That so little progress has been made in implementing its proposals remains something of a mystery. In the field of healthcare for instance, Christie required budget holders to be able to recognise the intrinsic value to health offered by community based service providers that have no interest in being badged as part of the NHS. A no brainer in this respect should be the Men’s Sheds movement. Someone should explain why, 10 years after Christie, this hasn’t happened.

Danielle Kelly,  Simon Teasdale,  Artur Steiner &  Helen Mason 

Research paper from Glasgow Caledonian University : Men’s Sheds in Scotland: the potential for improving the health of men

Abstract of paper

Recent policy focus is on the ‘non-obvious’ role of community-based organisations in tackling causes of poor health, such as social exclusion. Men’s Sheds are a type of community-based organisation offering health and wellbeing benefits to men, despite this not being the explicit reason they exist. A qualitative study was conducted in Scotland to identify sustainability challenges that impact on the ability of Sheds to become a formal healthcare service. Findings showed that a reliance on ageing and retired volunteers to undertake operational tasks and generate income to fund activities affected the ability of Sheds to sustain and develop. Further, members preferred their Sheds to remain informal and flexible to fit their specific needs. Although Sheds are recognised for their health and wellbeing benefits to men, policymakers must recognise that formalising their activities might detract from the Shed’s primary aims. This paper summarises specific policy implications and recommendations, taking into consideration tensions between the expectations placed on Sheds to expand into formal healthcare delivery, and the needs of Shed users.


  • Men’s Shed are known for their ability to contribute to men’s health and wellbeing.
  • The potential of Shed to take on a formal healthcare role is questionable because of a reliance on ageing and retired volunteers and a preference to remain informal.
  • Policymakers must recognise that although Sheds might be well placed to offer formal health care this may detract from their primary aims.

Full paper here