McArthur calls for Men’s Sheds funding to be put on stable footing

14 May 2024
Liam McArthur celebrating Orkney Men’s Sheds in 2023.

In Mental Health Awareness Week, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has joined cross-party calls for the Scottish Government to commit long-term funding to the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association, calling it a ‘vital organisation’.

After the Scottish Government threatened to cut SMSA funding last year, Mr McArthur coordinated a letter signed by over 40 MSPs in support of the Men’s Sheds movement. As a result, the Scottish Government reversed the proposed cut, albeit only for one year. A similar cut had been proposed this year, but today ministers again relented and will provide another short-term settlement for the coming year.

Speaking at Topical Questions in the chamber today, Mr McArthur called for a longer-term funding settlement, highlighting the risks to Men’s Sheds across the country as a result of the uncertainty. Orkney’s MSP argued for an end to the annual threats to cut funding and undermine the work Scottish Men’s Shed Association.

In response, Cabinet Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville recognised the work of Mr McArthur in advocating for the Men’s Sheds movement, but stopped short of making a commitment for long-term funding.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

“For over a decade now, Men’s Sheds have provided men across Scotland with a place to meet, socialise, pursue hobbies and make friends. More than this, though, they are increasingly recognised as an effective means of delivering public health benefits, improving mental health and contributing to the fight against isolation and loneliness.

“We see this first-hand in Orkney, of course, with sheds now up and running across the islands, making a meaningful difference for communities and for individuals. But none of this happens in a vacuum and the work of Men’s Sheds requires support and funding.

“As such, the threatened cut to vital support to the Scottish Men’s Shed Association again this year is more than regrettable. It is welcome, of course, that this decision has once again been reversed at the eleventh hour. However, the Minister’s refusal to provide any longer-term certainty holds open the prospects of the Men’s Shed movement finding itself in the very same position this time next year.

“In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, I would call on the Scottish Government to acknowledge the crucial work that Men’s Sheds do for mental health across the country change its approach to future funding.”

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