Men in sheds is an idea that originated in Australia and has been shown to provide mental health benefits for older men who often feel isolated and lonely. Our shed provides a meeting place, with tools and resources for our members to work on projects at their own pace and in a friendly and inclusive venue. We see our shed becoming a place of skill-sharing and informal learning, of individual pursuits and community projects, of purpose, achievement and social interaction. We hope it will become a place of leisure where our members can come together to work.
Already, we are lucky enough to have a member who has experience in setting up workshops and teaching adults with special needs and learning difficulties. Another member has a passion for restoration work. Among other things, they have helped to restore chairs brought into the Woodhouse Centre, which are then passed onto our ladies to work on in the upholstery section. We have found the shed is a great way to encourage men into the Woodhouse Centre and their skills have greatly helped in the continued smooth running of the main workshop. Both the Men in Sheds and regular Woodhouse Centre members enjoy coming together at coffee break to discuss their various projects.
At Christmas, we were contacted by St Johns Church in Hurst Green. As a consequence, our members were able to work on turning a large limed oak bookcase into a nest of coffee tables to be used by the church’s newly refurbished meeting room. Our aim is to participate in more community projects and we also hope the local community will come to us for garden planters, bird tables and boxes etc.
At present our members range from 65 to 86 years, but all ages are welcome. Our pioneer members very much see the Shed as an inclusive environment where men (or ladies) can learn some skills in an informal social environment and then (hopefully) go back to their own sheds to continue their hobbies at home. Eventually, if some of our adult members with learning difficulties show an interest, we would also hope to be able to help them access the facilities within the Shed.
One local resident read about our project in the Tandridge Border News. He kindly donated £100 to our Shed, which we have used to buy the following second hand tools: a lathe and chisel set, electric saw and an electric drill. To function effectively and undertake more interesting projects we will need to update many of the old tools within the Shed, but the main priority is to provide adequate insulation to enable our members to use the facility all year round an ensure the provision of adequate electrical sockets and lighting. We are currently applying for some local grants to fund this.
We invite you to visit the Woodhouse Centre so we can introduce you to our members and show you around our Shed, maybe with a view to becoming a member or commissioning us to make something for you.