Step by Step Research Project

Approved and funded by the EU Interreg 2 Seas Programme 2014-2020

Empowering men to undertake healthy social participation and active engagement in the labour market

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The Step by Step (SBS) project partnership 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) including the University of Chichester.

The project was approved and funded by the EU Interreg 2 Seas Programme 2014-2020 (co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund) which will support the project over four years from 2017-2021.

Project Aims

Our goals

The aim of SBS is to empower men to move from poor health and 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 benefiting themselves and society.

The expected changes include:

  • Reduced health costs related to physical & mental health issues
  • Better health contributing to healthier individuals, families, communities and the 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.

The Project

About Step by Step

There is consistent evidence to suggest that men access health services less frequently than women and experience poorer physical health outcomes. The suicide rates for men across Europe are increasing. Additionally, unemployment, non-participation, isolation and poor mental health are all contributing factors. Depression and other mental health problems are both under-detected and under-treated but men’s health is particularly poor. Studies have shown that the unemployed suffer more health problems, including mental health, than those in work and the longer people remain out of work when sick, the less likely they will return.

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

The SBS project will deliver:

  1. A model to improve men’s mental and physical health/wellbeing via a community space/workshop where men meet/learn new skills/engage in hands on activities.
  2. New model of community health service delivery for men and vulnerable groups.
  3. 94 new workshops implementing the model.
  4. A gaming-based virtual tool to connect people and indirectly to raise their awareness of their physical/mental health and wellbeing.
  5. Training programme to create champions for health and wellbeing from within the workshop attendees.
  6. Training programme for soft skills (motivational interviewing, empowerment etc).

Contact Us

Get in touch by emailing or follow us on Twitter @sbs_project_chi.

Step by Step Final Evaluation Report

See the evaluation report


The evaluation adopts a mixed-method (qualitative and quantitative evidence gathered), multi-discipline (physical, social, psychological and economic indicators of change) multi-level (evidence gathered from Shedders, Leaders, Trainers, Partners) approach.

The objective is to provide evidence of “who” the SBS Project has engaged with (reach), “what” changes have occurred (effectiveness), document “where” diversity in SBS Shed delivery is observed (adoption), “how” change was achieved (implementation) and “if” change is likely to lead to long-term economic benefit (maintenance). This approach is based on the RE-AIM evaluation framework.

Between September 2017 and November 2021, 101 Sheds were established with a total membership of approximately 2000 individuals from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Data collection for this evaluation started in May 2019 and ran until November 2021, and involved approximately 450 Shedders (Leaders, Champions and Members), 7 Champion trainers and 15 Project Partners.

Economically, the SBS Model facilitated reduced expenditure on mental and physical healthcare, less public spending on welfare transfer payments and other support agencies, and up-skilling and greater self-esteem on reducing unemployment and enhanced productivity in the workplace.

Step by Step Final Conference

Hosted on Zoom in October 2021

Experts from nine organisations, alongside the University of Chichester presented their findings and a new model of the Shed concept at an online event, on Friday 8 October.

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.”

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

In a preliminary report, published last year, researchers found men at high-risk of loneliness can boost their mental health and wellbeing by engaging in community activities and skills training. It also found most members joined the initiative for more social opportunities, with those interviewed reporting new relationships, leading to 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.”

Step by Step Final Conference 2021
Watch our October Conference to hear more about the Step by Step project and our results.

Related Documents

The SBS Model

The new #2SeasSBS co-created delivery model for men's health and employability, based on the Men's Sheds concept.

SBS Model - English
SBS Model - French

Shedder Stories

Hear from current Men's Shed participants

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