DAVID Gardner is vice-chair of Garnock Valley Men’s Shed, and volunteers to help men improve their mental wellbeing.

HAVING retired in August 2013, I quickly realised that it was important that I found something to keep my mind occupied as I had always been mentally active throughout my working life.

I was invited to join a group who would create a Patient Participation Group at our local Health Centre. On formation of the group I was appointed chair and still hold that position.

In November 2017, a member of our group advised me that a local community group was trying to assemble a steering group with the intention of starting a Men’s Shed within the Garnock Valley and I agreed to attend the inaugural meeting.

A Men’s Shed is a place where members can either take part in an activity such as woodwork, metalwork, modelling or working on community projects, or just socialise over a cup of tea or coffee. Men’s Sheds are about social connectons and friendship-building.

Having learned of the intentions of the Men’s Shed Association I immediately realised that this was something that I wanted to be part of. So I attended a training day hosted by the association.

In the period following the opening of our Men’s Shed in February 2017 I have become involved in all aspects of our work, where we try to overcome social isolation and thereby develop men’s mental wellbeing.

This is probably my most rewarding experience as I can watch people developing skills which help them in their day-to-day lives and in some cases helps men back into employment.

We have examples of men who to begin with would find it difficult to mix and communicate with other members, but after a short period of time they have become part of the group.

I have since expanded my role becoming a trustee and board member of the Scottish Men’s Shed Association, which allows me to speak with public groups who are contemplating opening a Men’s Shed in their area.

It is particularly rewarding to see a group of individuals realising their dream of opening and running their own Men’s Shed.

I would heartily recommend the Scottish Men’s Shed Association to all men – be they a volunteer, willing to share their skills, or be they a member of an individual Men’s Shed where they can socialise with like-minded men.

Men’s Sheds are run by the members for the members, therefore each individual can have as much or as little involvement as they wish.