The Scottish Men’s Sheds Association (SMSA) is pleased to announce that it is now an official member of the Unforgotten Forces consortium.
Unforgotten Forces, led by Age Scotland, is a partnership of armed forces and civilian charities working together to deliver a ‘one-stop-shop’ of high quality and joined-up support and opportunities – including advice, healthcare, creative activities and events – that boosts the health and wellbeing of older veterans in Scotland (age 65 and older).
The SMSA recently launched its first-ever Manifesto where the Association pledged its commitment to improve its reach to the armed forces and veterans’ community through co-production. Jason Schroeder, SMSA Executive Officer, said: “The Association is delighted to become a member of this collaborative project. We will work with the other leading partners towards a common goal – extending our reach to collectively meet the needs of the armed forces and veterans’ community – to offer the right support to improve health and wellbeing and reduce social isolation and loneliness.
“In Scotland, there are over 190 Men’s Shed groups and it is our vision to continue to support the growth of this Movement so that one day, every Scottish man will have access to and the opportunity to attend their local Shed if they choose to do so. The SMSA will afford this opportunity to raise awareness of Men’s Sheds and the wealth of benefits of attending this healthy and inclusive environment.”
Military veteran Stuart Paton said: “I have suffered from mental illness my whole life and have made several attempts on my life. It was extremely hard to transition to civilian life once the regiment and structure of the army was gone. Becoming a member of Garnock Valley Men’s Shed changed everything for me and gave me a sense of purpose again.
“I went along to the Shed and found it very friendly and welcoming with a diverse range of people, of all ages, and activities on offer. I have been involved in several different gardening opportunities, woodwork projects as well as joined the modellers’ club which ran throughout lockdown. The Shed experience is unique and my new-found Shedder pals have saved my life without a doubt. I have found real, meaningful friendships and these men don’t realise how much they have done for me.”
Doug Anthoney, Unforgotten Forces Co-ordinator, said: “A large majority of Scotland’s 220,000 veterans are older men, so they are a group disproportionately affected by later life’s challenges including loneliness and loss of purpose. Men’s Sheds can be a tonic for them, enabling them to rediscover the camaraderie and teamwork many enjoyed in the Forces.”
Graham Reece, an RAF veteran and member of the Forth Valley Men’s Shed, said: “It is really hard to find friends and camaraderie back in civvy street, like we experienced in the Forces, but Men’s Sheds are breaking down this barrier. The friends you meet and make in the Shed are very much like your peers in the Forces and you are all in the same boat.”
For more information on Unforgotten Forces, please visit www.unforgottenforces.scot.
The SMSA recently took part in the Unforgotten Forces podcast to discuss what Men’s Sheds can offer ex-servicemen in Scotland, click here to listen to the podcast on Spotify.