McArthur urges Ministers to rethink men's shed funding withdrawal

1 Dec 2022

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has today urged the Scottish Government to rethink a planned withdrawal of funding to the men's shed movement in Scotland. He has also backed Age Scotland’s call for a national fund to support older people's services through the cost-of-living crisis.

Speaking during Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Questions earlier, Mr McArthur urged the Minister for Equalities and Older People to rethink the government's decision to remove funding to the Scottish Men's Sheds Association for 2023/24. The decision confirmed to the Scottish Men’s Shed Association has sparked an online petition.

Orkney's MSP also highlighted the multiple pressures facing older people's groups in Orkney where demand for support has spiralled during and since the pandemic. Mr McArthur cited examples of dementia diagnosis and podiatry, where Age Scotland Orkney has seen a significant rise in demand for its services.

Mr McArthur's contribution follows concerns raised in the recent Age Scotland report 'Keeping The Doors Open'.

Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:

"Older people's groups like lunch clubs and men's sheds enrich individual lives and our wider communities. They make an invaluable contribution to tackling loneliness and improving wellbeing.

"However, as Age Scotland recently revealed, many of these groups are struggling to stay open amidst soaring demand post-pandemic and a deepening cost-of-living crisis. For many older people these groups are a lifeline and they deserve proper recognition for their role in public health.

"Against this backdrop, it is hard to understand why Scottish Ministers are planning to withdraw funding to the men's sheds movement. All the evidence shows men’s sheds help improve wellbeing and mental health by tackling loneliness and isolation. So this decision is seriously misjudged and risks undermining sheds across the country.

"The Minister herself recognised the wider societal benefit of men's sheds which is so evident here in Orkney and communities across the country. On the back of today’s exchange, therefore, I have written to the Deputy First Minister reiterating the need to protect older people's groups and urging him to rethink this cut."

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