Charity wants to expand not curtail operations
A charity is hoping to reverse a Scottish Government funding decision after positive talks were held.
The Scottish Men’s Sheds Association (SMSA) – the national support hub for Men’s Shed groups across Scotland – said it welcomed Liam McArthur MSP’s exchange with the first minister at this week’s First Minister's Questions on the proposed cuts to the charity’s discretionary funding.
Liam McArthur, MSP for Orkney, questioned the Nicola Sturgeon on the decision and highlighted the cross-party support received from over 40 MSP’s who this month co-signed a letter to deputy first minister John Swinney to allow this ‘invaluable public health movement to be maintained and expanded.’
The first minister confirmed that the Scottish Government is in ongoing discussions with the SMSA and a financial offer had been made.
Jason Schroeder, SMSA chief executive, said: “Although we are pleased to finally now be in discussions with the Scottish Government to reverse the decision to withdraw our core funding, in reality, the current offer on the table would only keep the Association’s doors open for another four to six months and we will be back in this situation again.
“The offer does not take into account our in-depth proposal to not only expand the national hub to meet the needs of and reflect the rapid growth of the movement to what it is today – with 202 Shed groups and a reach to 10,000+ men in all 32 local authority area– but also disregards the proposed start-up and development funding pot for new Shed groups to emerge.
“These community groups are needed now more than ever to improve men’s health and wellbeing and combat social isolation and loneliness in a post-Covid world and need immediate financial discretionary government backing during the present cost-of-living crisis.
“We applaud yesterday’s news on the appointment of the first Women’s Health Champion for Scotland and hope that a Men’s Health Champion is also in the wings to work in co-production with to represent, support and promote men’s health and wellbeing. The Scottish Men's Sheds movement, which we co-ordinate, is Scotland's men’s health voice and is evidenced in recent research as a unique and effective preventative health measure for the men of Scotland.
“It is worth its weight in gold, given the immense saving to public health services and reducing the workload to the NHS. It deserves not only long-term financial core commitment from the Scottish Government but also developmental support to grow to ensure all communities across Scotland have the option of access to a Men’s Shed pathway.
“We thank our cross-party supporters and look forward to continuing our discussion with the Ministers involved to revisit our original proposal at this critical time.”