The Step by Step project

Step by Step (SBS) will empower men to move from poor health &/or isolation to healthy social participation or active engagement in the labour market. It will promote a culture in which all citizens in all regions will have the confidence to make sustainable positive changes in their lives benefitting themselves & society. The expected changes include: reduced health costs related to physical & mental health issues; better health contributing to healthier individuals, families, communities & workforce; increased labour market activity; decreased number of work days lost to poor health.

The target group for SBS is specifically men and in particular those who may be socially isolated and suffering from poor mental health or poor wellbeing. However the project will also be open to women who will be very welcome to use the new SBS services.


Step By Step (SBS) has secured more than €2.6 million of European funding in its €4.3 million cross-border partnership involving 10 organisations from the UK, The Netherlands, France and Belgium – see below for partner details. The project was approved and funded by the EU Interreg 2 Seas Programme 2014-2020  and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund which has supported the project over four years.


There is consistent evidence men access health services less than women & experience poorer physical health outcomes. Their suicide rates across Europe are increasing & unemployment, non-participation, isolation & poor mental health are all contributing factors. Depression & other mental health problems are both under-detected and under-treated. Men’s physical health in all areas is similarly poor. Studies have shown that the unemployed suffer more health problems, including mental health, than those in work & the longer people stay off work when sick, the less likely they will return.

Currently health services (general practice, dentists, pharmacies etc) are under-used by men, with adverse impacts on their health, their families & their communities, as well as on employers & the national health budgets. Men are also less likely to make use of preventative health checks such as oral health, sight & screening.

Outreach work by project partners has shown that men see a clear need for a different way of providing services to them within their local communities.

Delivery of Step by Step

  • A model to improve men’s mental & physical health/wellbeing via a community space/workshop where men meet/learn new skills/engage in hands on activities
  • 94 new workshops implementing the model
  • New model of community health service delivery for men & vulnerable groups.
  • A gaming-based virtual tool to connect people and indirectly to raise their awareness of their physical/mental health and wellbeing.
  • Training programme to create champions for health & wellbeing from within the workshop attendees
  • Training programme for soft skills (motivational interviewing, empowerment etc)


The Health and Europe Centre is the Lead Partner for SBS and will be working with:

Kent County Council (UK)
Hampshire County Council (UK)
University of Chichester (UK)
Bolwerk (BE)
Wattrelos Association of Community Centres (FR)
ADICE – Association for the development of citizen and European initiatives (FR)
Community Centre Jean Ferrat Arques (FR)
Community Centre ‘De Mussen’ (NL)
Wellbeing People (UK)

Observer partners include: The Department of Work and Pensions; Southampton City Council; UK Men’s Sheds Association; Maison de l’emploi de Valenciennois; Werkgevers Service Punt; Conseil Départemental du Nord.

Step-by-Step Final Project Conference

Wellbeing People got together with experts from nine organisations to present their findings and a new model of the Shed concept at an online event, on Friday 8 October.

Step-by-Step Project researchers worked with more than 80 groups across the UK, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to develop a new Men’s Shed concept. Since then, it has been adopted by groups of all ages and backgrounds and promotes health and wellbeing through peer-support and autonomy.

Step-by-Step evaluator Andy Wood, from Chichester, said: “We will be revealing the results from the last four years and show how the project is making a difference to men facing poor mental and physical health.

“The Men’s Shed model is highly transferable in this country and beyond and our new concept is empowering men to re-engage with society and employment. Those involved in the study told us they have benefitted from improved knowledge and skills and feel happier and more confident.”

Through research, it was found that men suffering from high-risk loneliness benefitted mentally by engaging in community activities and being trained in different skills.  The preliminary report was published last year and showed that men’s mental health improved significantly with this initiative. It also found most members enrolled in this concept for social opportunities, which lead to new relationships, increased feelings of self-worth and lower rates of loneliness.

Alice Chapman-Hatchett, Director of the Health and Europe Centre, said: “This project shows the importance of working collaboratively across countries, pooling expertise to improve health outcomes for citizens in practical ways. The Health and Europe Centre is delighted to have been able to develop and co-ordinate such a successful project.”

Men’s Shedder Stories