Camaraderie and community: the Men’s Shed

With annual costs of just £30,000, the Haberdashers’ small grant of £2,000 made a considerable difference to this volunteer-led organisation. Here’s why it matters to those who attend the Men’s Shed.


All the tools are neatly laid out, each screwdriver and pair of pliers in their rightful place along the length of the ‘shed’. There is clearly a great deal of care and attention here, and not just for the hardware. 

This is the Men’s Shed (soon to be rebranded the Joy of Sheds), a small but perfectly formed model of community, where friendship, banter and camaraderie sit together with tea and biscuits. The Company’s grant enables them to cover twenty-six weeks of their Men’s Shed costs (their tutor is paid commensurate to her expertise). 

At first glance it seems simply to be a place where older men can keep themselves creative and energised. But in the light-hearted conversations and laughter (Steve tells me it keeps him out of mischief) you can see that this is a place where connections are made. In the midst of the pandemic and its various lockdowns these friendships sustained them.

Steve is constructing an automata, a mechanical toy, while Alan works with the tutor, Moira, on cleaning up an old plank of wood to be made into something new. There is tea, chat and much laughter: the kinds of things that can be a lifeline when you experience isolation. 

JOY also offers an extensive programme to older communities across Lewisham and Southwark: seated exercise, singing, tai chi, walking, crafts and a dance class. Always looking for new inspiration, their next endeavour is to trial walking football. With a membership of well over 160 you can be sure that this will be taken up with enthusiasm.  



If one of the Company’s Small Grants goes some way to alleviate isolation in older people then this is an achievement indeed. My thanks go to Jane, Sarah, Alan, Steve, Bill. And Billy for making me feel so welcome. 

Susan Barry

Director for Charities