Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Get your shed together

Some of us have long argued that allotments are great for improving a person's physical health, but what about mental health? There are now one million single older men in the UK and many can fall victim to loneliness and mental health problems. Men's Health Week takes place on 10th-16th June and one project in particular in Gateshead aims to address the issue of loneliness and mental health issues in older men.

There's nothing fancy about this scheme. It's not about expensive treatments. It's not about highly paid consultants being called in to address problems. It's simple and in many ways quite traditional. It's about the power of talking, about getting people to enjoy time together. Gardeners and allotment holders are being encouraged to paint their sheds and simply invite people round for a tea and chat. It is a simple solution that can go a long way to addressing the problems of loneliness.

The person behind "Get Your Shed Together" is Gateshead's artist in residence, Gilly Rogers. She came to the Whinnies in Sunniside, my home village where I also have an allotment. I interviewed her on Monday about shed painting and what she wants to achieve but I have included below the material she sent me.

My thanks to officers at Gateshead Council for putting Gilly in touch with me. It seems that anything related to allotments in Gateshead will end up being brought to my attention.


‘Get Your Shed Together’ is a new initiative aiming to raise awareness of the health risks caused by isolation, especially for older men.

Shed owners of Gateshead are invited to give their shed a makeover and show how they can be fun and sociable spaces.

Take part in this project by decorating a shed and turning it into a welcoming place to sit and chat with a neighbour or friend. You can choose to paint your shed or fill it with different things you like, maybe it’s just a table and chairs or a pair of curtains - maybe it can be transformed into a mini exhibition space? How creative can you be in adapting your shed?

The idea for the project is to get as many people as possible decorating their sheds and inviting someone to share a chat, in the lead up to and during Men’s Health Week, 10 – 16 June.

During Men’s Health Week, Gateshead Council’s Artist in Residence, Gilly Rogers, will be in Gateshead with her pop-up shed, chatting to people and encouraging everyone to take part in the project, which she hopes will evolve into an annual event. Watch out for updates about venues where you can join us on the Our Gateshead website.

We need you to help by simply being a good neighbour. Social isolation and loneliness is increasing and is affecting people’s health. For the first time the numbers of lone-dwelling older men has reached around one million. Loneliness and social isolation have been linked to raised blood pressure, poor physical health and mental ill-health including depression, suicide and dementia. Loneliness can contribute to a higher risk of disability, poor recovery from illness and early death. Health professionals consider the health risk associated with social isolation is comparable with that of cigarette smoking and obesity.


Find out more on

Become part of our network by contacting Gilly or emailing photos of you with friends or family in your decorated shed to

So please start decorating your shed and have fun!

We are waiting to hear from you.

1 comment:

Jonathan Calder said...

You may be interested in this story from the day job.