New men’s mental health support group in Cardiff is so popular it has a waiting list

The newest Men’s Shed has been set up at the bottom of the beer garden at Lisvane’s Ty Mawr pub 

A men’s mental health shed in Lisvane already has 22 members and a waiting list – as its secretary pleads for more help for other men in neighbouring city communities.

Men’s Sheds is a male mental health charity that was created in the early 2000s to help men discuss their problems ‘shoulder to shoulder’ as men are almost half as likely to seek professional help and discuss their issues face-to-face.

Members, or shedders, can visit their local unique shed, that can offer a range of things to do, such as woodwork, photography, mechanics or even just enjoying a simple cup of tea.

After finding out his mother had a terminal illness, Chris Griffiths, secretary and founder of the club, had ideas of creating a Men’s Shed in his community as he struggled with his mental health.

Mr Griffiths said: “When my mother passed during Covid and cafes began to open, I met up with three of my mates for a catch-up.

“We all opened up to each other about how difficult the past year had been, with my one mate talking for the first time in 20 years about the death of his wife.”

After some discussions at the local library, Mr Griffiths and five other men decided to apply for National Lottery funding and search for a site to place their shed.

“After searching 43 different sites, the Ty Mawr pub in Lisvane agreed to house us in the bottom of the car park for free,” he said.

Men’s Sheds members on the steps of the Ty Mawr pub, where the shed is located

“We have been given £22,000 in total which allowed us to place a metal container big enough for 20 or so. It took a year to set up but we’re already full.”

The shed in Lisvane is one of 572 in the UK and 70 in Wales.

Project leader for Men’s Sheds Cymru, Robert Visintainer, said the demand for support is higher than ever.

“We began here in Wales in 2013 and it has grown and grown,” he said.

“A lot of sheds sadly had to close during the pandemic and unfortunately not all have recovered. It’s a shame because we know the demand for support is greater than ever.”

Although Mr Griffiths is pleased with the uptake of members since the shed opened in July, he is concerned about the lack of support men have in the Cardiff area.

He said: “To have a waiting list already is evidence that more needs to be done. We are approached by men all over Cardiff who say they have nowhere to go and nobody to talk to.

“It’s not easy to set up a shed and we want it to be more accessible to likeminded people.”

Members of the group in Lisvane are aged between 62 and 86 with many members being widowers or disabled.

Mr Griffiths said that it can be “difficult” to deal with the extra members, so the group set up trips to various places around Cardiff to get more people involved.

Lisvane Men’s Sheds members during a ramble on Flat Holm Island

Although the stigma surrounding men’s mental health is improving, project leader Mr Visintainer argues taking that first step is still the most difficult: “We have an old saying, behind every good Men’s Shed is a good woman.

“Most of the people who visit a Men’s Shed for the first time are recommended by a wife or a sister. We want more men to reach out.”

For more information on Men’s Sheds, you can visit their website.