Health checks and horticulture: a haven for men facing social isolation

Practice sister Sarah Everett’s enthusiasm has helped turn a derelict nursery into a community hub

Sarah Everett knew many of her male patients were socially isolated and lacked access to meaningful activities. Keen to make a difference, she consulted patients including John Alexander about creating a place where men could meet, enjoy each other’s company and pursue practical interests.

The project is now a charity, part of the Men’s Shed movement, empowering men who are retired, unemployed or unfit for work to take control of their health.

Ms Everett offers health checks for the men who visit the Shed. Picture: Mike Wilkinson

‘The driving force’

‘She was sensitive to our mental and physical health needs and knew there was little motivation to make healthy lifestyle choices,’ says Mr Alexander, who nominated practice sister Ms Everett in the Patient’s Choice category of this year’s RCNi Nurse Awards.

‘She has been the driving force and so willing to go the extra mile for men like us, dedicating hours to navigating red tape with her infectious enthusiasm. She motivates us to keep going even when dealt bitter blows.’

Read about the rest of our Patient’s Choice finalists below, or click here to vote

Ms Everett secured funding from the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland. ‘It was obvious we needed dedicated premises,’ says Mr Alexander. ‘Ms Everett liaised with council officials to secure a derelict nursery. Driven by her can-do attitude, it was completely transformed.’

Cookery courses are among the options at the Shed, which also has polytunnels where the men grow fruit and vegetables.

‘The Shed has changed lives,’ says Mr Alexander. ‘People have a reason to get up in the morning and face what used to be problems but now have become challenges.’

Powerful impact 

Ms Everett, who works at Govan Health Centre, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, says: ‘The men worked so hard to transform the building, and its impact has been powerful. One told me he had gone four months without seeing someone before the Shed.’

Voting opens on 1 May and closes at midnight on 14 June. The winner will be announced at the RCNi Nurse Awards ceremony in London on 3 July.


Elaine Cole is RCNi special projects editor

The Patient’s Choice award is supported by the Patients Association