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Men’s Sheds charity given no details despite government hailing funding U-turn

© SYSTEMJason Schroeder. Image: Supplied
Jason Schroeder. Image: Supplied

Scotland’s largest men’s mental health charity is still waiting for details of how much money it will receive from government – despite SNP ministers hailing their support on social media following a funding cut U-turn.

The Sunday Post revealed last week how the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association faced being wound up in a matter of months in its 10th anniversary year after the government pulled all support.

But ministers reversed their decision just days after our report after politicians were inundated with calls from concerned members of the public.

Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville told MSPs she would restore money to the charity, which acts as an umbrella organisation for men’s sheds across Scotland.

Somerville said the government will “work with the organisation to identify and to provide the funding for this financial year to ensure that we support them in the months ahead to develop broad, sustainable support”.

Shirley-Anne Somerville. Image: PA.

A number of senior government figures, including First Minister John Swinney, hailed their “additional” support for Men’s Sheds following the announcement.

However, we can reveal charity bosses have been given no information on how much money will be made available or what the terms are.

The Scottish Government was also unable or unwilling to set out these details when asked repeatedly to do so by The Sunday Post.

Charity boss ‘suspicious’ of intentions

Men’s Sheds chief executive Jason Schroeder told us he has been contacted by a government official to say they will be “in touch next week to take things forward” but said he has no idea what that means in practical terms.

Government funding was scrapped in April 2022 but a small last-minute sum of £75,000 was agreed between SNP ministers and the charity last year.

Schroeder says he is “very suspicious” that the government could look to take the plaudits and then put themselves in a similar situation next year.

Montrose Men’s Shed, Union Street, Montrose. Image: Kim Cessford / DCT Media

He said: “Like any good politicians, they are capitalising on being the ones to save the day. They are getting all this good publicity out of it.

“But if they give us £75,000 again, then what? This is what they did last time when it was Nicola Sturgeon.

“I’m really hoping this time there’s going to be a genuine sit down and long-term discussion about the health of men in Scotland and how we can deliver real change.

“They’ve listened to the voices of people in Scotland, and to the thousands of people who signed our petition. Now it’s time to really come good.”

What do Men’s Sheds do?

Men’s Sheds tackle social isolation among men and aims to improve quality of life for its community of 10,000 members across more than 200 independent sheds.

They help volunteers set up shared spaces where people from all walks of life can gather to learn new skills, pass on their experience and benefit from companionship.

Scottish Conservative MSP Alexander Stewart warned the government must not return to the policy of giving the charity a “sticking plaster” to get through the year.

He said: “That is not a mistake they can make again.

“The people of Scotland have spoken, and they have told Mr Swinney and his cohort that SMSA is a vital, growing part of the community landscape.

“Establish regular funding links with Men’s Sheds now – or run the risk of losing a valuable weapon in the fight against loneliness and isolation.”

The Scottish Government would not answer our questions but said it has been supportive of Men’s Sheds since their inception through various initiatives, alongside £545,000 direct funding awarded to SMSA.