THE treasurer of the Wee County Men's Shed has expressed his disappointment at the Scottish Government's decision to withdraw funding for the projects.

The Scottish Men's Shed Association (SMSA) was informed at the start of the new year that they would not be receiving any backing for the first time since 2014.

Jon Searle, treasurer of the SMSA and Wee County Men's Shed in Tillicoultry, insists the funding cut will be a big loss to the governing body.

He said: "I think it's an appalling decision. One of the problems with men is that they don't talk and Men's Sheds provide that space for them to be comfortable and talk.

"The activities we hold allow men to say to each other 'oh I wouldn't do it that way, try this way' so they're focussed on the work they're doing but the important thing is they're talking and staying in society.

"If the SMSA loses its funding, there will be a knock on effect to each shed and, worst case scenario, some sheds might be forced to close."

The SMSA received £75,000 in funding in 2022 but this money will be redistributed into the NHS and to combat the cost-of-living crisis.

However, Jon believes this decision will have a detrimental effect on the NHS due to the support Men's Sheds give to people struggling with mental health.

"I think the decision may well backfire," he added. "It's been proven that a Men's Shed attributes about £1500 per year per member in savings to the NHS.

"If you take away Men's Sheds and the NHS have to pay it, that will only add further strain."

Kenny Quinn has been a member and chairman of the Forth Valley Men's Shed for two years and says the benefits of the project on members' mental health is hugely beneficial.

He said: "We get referrals from doctors and from social workers and it seems to be the place they're sending their patients with long term mental illness to get better.

"The impact on members' mental health is immense. Men traditionally don't talk to each other about social isolation or suicidal thoughts but men's sheds encourage them to talk."

Alexander Stewart, Scottish Conservative Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP and shadow minister for older people, said: "I am utterly dismayed at SNP ministers' short-sighted decision to cease Scottish Government funding for Men's Sheds.

"They need a solid, stable, and three-year funding plan secured so that they are able to continue on their essential paths, as well as creating a fund to assist start-ups and the development of newly formed sheds which they are all able to gain access to.

"The Scottish Government must put all this in place for the health and wellbeing of this extraordinary successful institution and its worthy service users."

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said that the money given to the SMSA can be used to support the association until new funding presents itself.

They said: "The Scottish Government funding for Men's Sheds has helped the movement to grow from five Men's Sheds in 2013 to over 200 sheds today with over 3000 members.

"The £75,000 provided by the Scottish Government this financial year will help the SMSA build further success as they continue to develop their business model and new funding partners come on board."