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We’re delighted to announce that the Men’s Sheds Cymru Association has now been officially constituted as a Cooperative with the support of the Wales Coop Centre and Hafan Cymru’s Men’s Sheds Cymru project.

Becoming a cooperative means that the Association is wholly owned by its members and seeks to ensure that existing Men’s Sheds all across Wales are fully represented and are able to play a part in sustaining and growing the Men’s Sheds movement across Wales. The Association is currently being run by our Joint-Chairs Robert Visintainer (Squirrel’s Nest Men’s Shed) and Malcolm Worth (Colwyn Bay Men’s Shed) along with Alison Pritchard (Dusty Forge Men’s Shed) who is supporting Rob and Malcolm as an additional board member. We’re very grateful to Malcolm, Rob and Alison for the effort that they’ve put in to date in getting the Association to this stage and now is the time to recruit additional board members to help provide the Association and the Men’s Sheds Cymru project with the strategic direction to move to the next exciting chapter in the Men’s Sheds story in Wales.

The Association’s aim is to ensure that all areas of Wales are appropriately represented on the board, so we’re seeking representatives from existing sheds who would be interested in nominating themselves as board members. It is envisaged that the board will meet quarterly so the time commitment should be manageable. To volunteer as a board member, simply email us at the Men’s Sheds Cymru project at info@mensshedscymru.co.uk for further details about the board application process.

Membership of the cooperative is free and available to all constituted Men’s Sheds in Wales. Again, please contact the Men’s Sheds Cymru team at info@mensshedscymru.co.uk for further membership information.

Introducing Malcolm Worth and Robert Visintainer our joint Chairs for Men’s Sheds Cymru Association

Malcolm Worth

My name is Malcolm Worth and I have been a member of Colwyn Bay Men’s Shed since the inaugural meeting on Friday 16 May 2014 and have held the post of secretary since then. Previous to that I had spent 22 years in the Royal Air Force maintaining aircraft electronic equipment and 20 years working for BAE Systems in Lancashire until taking voluntary redundancy and moving to Colwyn Bay in 2011 at the age of 60.

I believe passionately in the ethos of men’s sheds and the last 2 years have shown me that the strength of our Welsh Sheds is our diversity and we should not stifle that by having a proscriptive association laying down rules and procedures that we must follow. My view is that it should be informative and helpful giving examples of procedures and processes that can be used as templates that sheds can amend to account for their own particular circumstances. The Association should be able to speak for sheds in Wales so that nationwide discounts and sponsorships could be arranged, they should speak up for older men by lobbying the Welsh Assembly for assistance in premises and perhaps in the future, funding (it has happened in Australia so why not here). Any shed that is struggling should be able to ask the association and be put in touch with the nearest shed with the knowledge to help (for instance, some sheds are good at applying for grant funding and others less so). I believe that a shed is a place where men go willingly to do things that they enjoy and to work alongside other men. By doing so, almost as a bi-product, mental and physical health improve.

Robert Visintainer

My name is Robert, on a voluntary basis I have been part of The Squirrel’s Nest in Bridgend since 2009 (it has been in existence since 2002). We became aware of the Men’s Shed a few years ago and felt that our ethos, workshop and social aims fitted nicely with those of the Men’s Sheds movement. It was an easy decision to become part of the Men’s Shed Association.

The beginnings of The Squirrels’ Nest stemmed from self-help emotional and mental well-being and this continues to be kept this at the heart of their activities. I think that this is also at the heart of many a men’s shed.

Seeing the huge benefits that come from being part of a shed has inspired me to want to see many more formed in Wales. I’d like to see the stories of men’s sheds told for all to see how a simple idea can have such a positive impact on those who take part and their communities. I hope that the success of a Men’s Shed Association in Wales will help to make this happen.

Just like relationships within an individual shed I believe that an association can create a network of Welsh sheds who enjoy respect & esteem and to help establish & maintain supportive and caring relationship between each other.

I think individual sheds should be shaped by its members, what goes on decided by members and that most importantly sheds should remain in the ownership of its members.

I think that sheds working with long established and much bigger organisations can be hugely successful. But we should be mindful that such relationships should be equally and mutually beneficial, with control and autonomy kept by the shed.

Most importantly of all I believe that sheds should be set up and run on the basis of benefit for its members and community and not for selfish reasons or for individual profit. They should run with good and proper intent and not because they are ‘flavour of the month’ or fit the current funding available – they should be sustainable.

I am looking forward to working with you all, Malcolm and the project team to start to shape The Association of Men’s Sheds Cymru.