AS A child, I loved accompanying my granddad in his shed where he neatly stored all his tools and would do little jobs like fix things that weren’t working properly.

He had been a painter and decorator by trade and a highly skilled sign writer, working on some of the finest local architecture like the Assembly Room in Worcester’s Guildhall and Stanbrook Abbey, at Callow End.

His shed was like an Aladdin's cave to me and I was always fascinated by his books of gold leaf and the wafer thin sheets of the glistening precious metal as well as the rows of tools, which he cared for like treasured friends.

As well as being a storage and workshop space, it was also like walking into a sanctuary where peace prevailed.

Men and sheds have traditionally gone together like beer and pubs - providing a quite space away from the main household where, predominantly the male of the house, could go off and “potter”.

For decades they have been a standard feature of many back gardens and allotment plots throughout the country, but seven years ago the first community shed opened in the UK offering men the chance to get together to take part in practical skills and activities, share tools and knowledge as well as socialise.

Today there are more than 350 Sheds in Britain – some are men only, some are open to men and women, some have older age limits and some are open to younger members. They also offer a range of activities from woodwork and bicycle repairs to computing and photography.

The idea of Men’s Sheds or community sheds started in Australia in the 1990s following a conference on men’s health, which acknowledged there were few opportunities for men to socialise and discuss their feelings and wellbeing.

Although it took a while for the movement to reach our shores, it is now thriving in the UK with a national association and ones for Scotland, Wales and Ireland. There are about seven new community sheds opening in the UK each month and there are more than 7,000 members nationally.

But there are some blank spots in the national map and Worcester is one of those. There are no official community sheds in the immediate area.

Now local community groups are being encouraged to apply for a share of a national Sheds Grant Fund thanks to the older people’s charity the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) and the Asda Foundation, which is providing funding.

According to the RVS, Sheds are community workshop spaces where people come together to take part in practical skills and activities. They are designed and run by their members and provide opportunities for people to share tools, resources and skills in order to create, learn and develop social networks.

Jo Phillips, Sheds Project Manager at Royal Voluntary Service, said: “Each Shed is unique due to its location and the activities the members want to undertake in the space. Whether it is for woodworking, gardening, model making, weaving or electronics, we are delighted to be able to give a helping hand to local communities who want to get a community-based Shed up and running.”

The fund offers small grants from £250 to £1,000 to help set up new Sheds or help existing ones with their next stage development costs.

“The support from the Sheds Grant Fund is to help with set-up money and get them up and running. It could be money to help them rent a space for the Shed and insurance or for tools and equipment. It is just about giving them a helping hand,” said Jo.

She said the RVS became involved because it was aware that older men are not good at engaging with traditional services for older people and it wanted to give older men, who would otherwise be sitting at home alone, the opportunity of getting together and doing something practical. She pointed out the important part of Sheds is not the building but the social interaction and the opportunity to learn and share skills and resources.

“Sheds are not about teaching and training – they are about people coming in with different skills and sharing them. The people are the most important thing – not the building.”

Shed have sprung up in all sorts of unlikely places including a 17th century forge, the disused changing rooms on a recreation area and the back of a charity shop, said Jo.

Often this has led to members of the Shed repairing donated items for the charity shop to sell or making things for the local community such as a Santa’s sleigh for the local Rotary Club’s fundraising efforts at Christmas.

Julie Ward, manager of the Asda Foundation, said: “The Asda Foundation is one of the many ways we can give something back to our local communities. That’s why we lend a hand to a wide range of good causes with which our colleagues are involved, sharing their passion and helping to make a difference through a variety of projects across the UK. We see the Sheds programme as making a real difference at a grassroots level and are proud to support this initiative.”

The Sheds Grant Fund is run in conjunction with the four national Shed associations representing and supporting Sheds in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Jason Schroeder, executive officer of the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association said: “We are thrilled that by working together with our national partners we can support this kind of initiative to help benefit individuals, their families, and local communities.”

Anyone interested in establishing a Shed in Worcester or the surrounding areas should ring 074234 71018 for more information; email or visit

For an application form and guidance notes visit

The closing date for applications is Sunday March 5.

Jo said the usual process for starting a Shed is when a few like-minded people get together with the aim of starting a Shed, they contact the RVS which helps them set up an open meeting and an appeal is put out through the local media for interested parties to go along to the meeting or suggest possible venues for the Shed. The Shed is then established according to the response.