Reported by The Scotsman – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.
Geoff Allison had been living in the town of Dalbeattie, Dumfries and Galloway, for over two decades when his wife fell ill with Alzheimer’s.
For a few years, Geoff, 75, acted as a full-time carer to his wife. When she was later moved to a care home, however, it was more than just her absence he felt:
“I found myself alone in a house in a town where I didn’t really know anyone in spite of being here [Dalbeattie] for 30-odd years”.
Before retiring from work, Geoff’s job had involved travelling frequently, and, as a result, he’d lost touch with most of his work contacts. With little to occupy his time and few close friends at hand, he, like thousands of elderly people across Scotland, felt at a loose end.
With Scotland’s population ageing faster than the rest of the UK, the scourge of social isolation needs urgent attention. Yet for years, individuals, communities and MPs have struggled with a solution to the growing crisis. Though prevalent across all sections of society, it is often men, who have weaker social networks and a propensity for bottling up emotion, who suffer the most.
And while charity, NHS and government-led initiatives have offered up solutions, it is a grassroots movement – Scottish Men’s Sheds – that’s been leading a quiet but mighty “health by stealth” revolution in men’s wellbeing across Scotland.
It was this movement that Geoff stumbled across in his hour of need, and in 2014 he helped to found the now-thriving Dalbeattie Men’s Shed. Today, it’s one of 130 “sheds” across Scotland: spaces offering communal workshop areas for men to do practical, hands-on project work shoulder to shoulder.