Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs & Helpful Advice

Below is a list of ever expanding FAQs and helpful advice. Click on the + sign to open or close the box and get the answer. Send us your questions, so we can include them here with the answers which will help others and us. Check back for updates – Thanks, SMSA Info.

If I have become a member by using the SMSA Membership leaflet application, do I need to re-register again online through the website?

We suggest you do. This will allow you full access to our website. It means you will be supplied with a ‘profile page’ and password. This will allow you to Log In and then have access to all our Resources and documents to read and download e.g SMSA Constitution, How to start a shed etc etc.

Please do tick the ‘I am an offline member’ option so we don’t send you another SMSA Membership pin as an unnecessary cost and work for us. Thanks.

What’s the difference between SMSA individual membership and a Shed membership?

To become a FREE Individual Member of the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association (SMSA) means that you can have full ‘Log In’ access to our website, read and download our Resource Shed Documents e.g. Shed constitution, Risk Assessments, Health and Safety docs. You will also receive a SMSA Membership pin for free and some promotional goodies, become a part of the thriving Scottish Men’s Sheds Movement and wear your SMSA Membership pin proudly.

To have your Shed or Shed Development Group become a member offers different criteria.

SMSA Men’s Shed Membership is for groups in full development (have a steering group, constituted etc and might need basic insurance, AMSA Start a Shed guide etc) and for Open Sheds. This costs £20 per year per Shed Group. That’s it!

Benefits include:

  • Shed Insurance at a SMSA discounted preferential rate through our insurance partner, Greenwood Insurances.
  • Qualification application status for start up shed funding (£250 – £1000) through our partner, Royal Voluntary Services.
  • Receive private access to the Australian Men’s Shed (AMSA) new two part interactive Men’s Shed Manual – Starting a Shed and Running a Shed.
  • Havetwo of your Shed members be moderators to post your news and requests directly on our new Facebook Shed Member Forum. The place to share everything Shed.

These are some of the benefits of becoming paid up members which we have created for you. Your annual Shed fee will help us a lot with the costs in providing and posting out our free SMSA Membership pins to hundreds of our new members which we hope you have enjoyed receiving and wear with pride. We aim to continue to negotiate even more benefits for you and your Shed as we all grow together on this Shed journey. Thanks for your support!

Can all genders join the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association?

Yes, they can. We know from experience that it will take all of us to support this grass roots movement become successful in our communities. Whether you wear your membership pin which starts a conversation and/or start a Shed in your local area, you are all part of its success.

What is the role of women in Men’s Sheds?

Men’s Sheds have come about since the 1990’s to meet a gap in our communities for supportive, non-competitive, healthy places for men to meet.

At SMSA we believe that something special can happen when men work together in a mutually supportive way. This special experience exists in women-only groups too (www.theswi.org.uk ). Many people agree that a group’s dynamic changes when a member of the opposite gender joins the group. There is nothing wrong about that, but it does mean it has become something else from what it was intended for and wanted to be. Some Men’s Sheds have women members, some don’t. Some have fully mixed sessions and some have men’s days and women’s days. Some women have started women only Sheds.

We have also had shared with us that some female partners of male Shedders can feel less comfortable about their partner attending a mixed-gender shed. This opinion could be borne in mind when considering mixed-gender membership in your sheds. We feel it’s important to hear everyone’s views.
Women are generally very supportive of Men’s Sheds and are happy to see their partners, a parent, Grandfather, friend become happier in their lives, find a purpose and share new conversations when returning home.

In Barry Goldings book, ‘The Men’s Shed Movement – The Company of Men (ISBN 9781612297873 – available: www.amazon.co.uk), ‘While Men’s Sheds typically make a local decision whether to include women as participants (or not), and if so how to include them, it is widely acknowledged that women have played major roles in developing and championing many Sheds, the Movement, and national and state Shed associations.’ Many women have been the support ‘primer’ to get Men’s Sheds started in the world. In Scotland we have Jill Sowden in Aberdeenshire and Jo Hobbett in Fife who are doing just that.

Up to you, your committee, group, community. It’s a personal and local decision.

Do you need to be good at DIY to join?

No. Men’s Sheds are for all men with ‘time on their hands’. Whether it’s because your life has changed, you have a spare hour or are onshore for a few weeks etc. You can go to the shed just to chat and have a cuppa, or play board games, or read or use a computer. Arts & crafts are also popular. The range of activities is as broad as the members’ interests.

If you want to learn a new skill or repair something you can usually find another Shedder to help you or give you advice.

Can I work on my own projects?

Yes. Most shedders have had enough experiences of being told what to do or of having to meet deadlines. Autonomy (being in charge of yourself) is a very important part of the shed ethos. Sheds are happier when people are doing things they enjoy and want to do willingly. It is for fun, it’s not a job!

Professionals: ‘Can I refer my clients to the Men’s Shed?’

Men’s Sheds are not “a service provider” and do not “take referrals”. They are groups of local men, engaged in activities as equals and volunteers. Everyone using the shed is responsible for their own safety and their own actions.
Professionals like GP’s might tell someone they are working with the Men’s Shed and give them a leaflet, which we appreciate but the man visits the shed because he wants to, not because he is told to. If a man is going to a Shed with a carer or has a disability, we suggest one or both get in touch before with the Shed committee or the Shed supervisor of the day and ask if it is appropriate in their Shed and what level of disability the Shed can accept. Some Sheds might have one day a week which caters specifically for attendants with carers, it’s up to each local shed if they are willing and/or can support this in their Shed.

What if someone gets hurt?

There is always a risk of injury when using tools, particularly power tools. However, Men’s Sheds have very low accident rates and just one of the reasons why there is no alcohol allowed in Sheds. Maybe Shedders have an astounding amount of common sense, we like to think so.

Some Sheds ask members to sign a disclaimer undertaking only to use tools which they are competent to use safely, take responsibility for their own safety and not cause a danger to others.

Having a written document showing that you have assessed any hazards and taken steps to reduce risks is vital. This is sometimes called a “Health & Safety Policy” or “Risk Assessment”.

If someone does get hurt, you need to be able to show that you have taken careful & practical steps to reduce risks. You will find more information here. Also we feel Sheds need insurance and have partnered up with our Shed Insurance Specialist to support your needs at a discounted rate. A good reason to become a SMSA Shed/ Development Group Member.

Want to ask a question?

If you have a question which we haven’t answered here, why not email us?

What our members say

In short. We already feel invigorated, more motivated, more active, healthier and indeed happier. Isn’t that what a Shed is about?- Bill B
Your advice and help in negotiating and securing us a lease has been invaluable. We wish you every success in developing the SMSA to the point that every area in Scotland will have a regional advisor. - Alan P
There have been times when the task ahead of us has seemed too much and without your presence to re-kindle our motivation we might have faltered.- Peter
Many thanks for such a fulsome conversation this morning. Both Lawson and I learnt a great deal from our chat and from your advice. Well Being!- Alan S

Men involved in community Men’s Sheds report living healthier, happier and more connected lives.