How sheds prove handy in fighting loneliness in elderly

The Men's Shed network is growing across Scotland - aiming to keep people active for longer.

Len Hinton, who celebrates his 91st birthday this year, lost his wife a few years ago.

He moved to East Lothian from England to be with his daughter, but says he still has difficult days.

The Men’s Shed project in Macmerry has become a social lifeline for him.

The group meets in the village hall twice a week to work on a variety of projects, from traditional woodwork to guitar-making.

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The committee behind it also operates a small library and puts on other social activities throughout the year.

Members range from stroke victims and dementia sufferers to men who just need a bit of company.

“It’s the best thing I’ve done in a long time, truthfully,” says Len. “When you get three age groups in the same house, it can be very difficult… [so] this is terrific.

“I came in this morning, there was tea on the go – it’s very nice.”

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The Men’s Shed network is growing across Scotland – aiming to combat loneliness in older men, and to keep people active for longer.

But despite many positive projects like those, campaigners say loneliness is still threatening to become an epidemic.

Around a quarter of a million Scottish pensioners only have a pet or the television as their main form of company.

“It is becoming of epidemic proportions,” says Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland.

“[And with] taking away the free TV licence for the over 75s, when they’re so reliant – that keeps them in contact with the outside world.”

Meanwhile, new research from Independent Age shows that around 120,000 pensioner households in Scotland are missing out on the means-tested Pension Credit benefit – the equivalent of £320m.

That has a knock-on effect on the TV licence issue. From next year, only over 75s in receipt of Pension Credit will be eligible for a free licence.

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Campaigners say there’s a shared responsibility in society, to make sure our older citizens never feel alone.


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