What happens at Northampton Community Sheds?
We are now well equipped for safe working, with a wide range of hand tools and woodworking machines available. During January 2018 we added a wood lathe and large bandsaw.
Some of the more experienced Shedders act in the role of Steward, helping others to follow recognised working practices. Our Workshop is rented from the owners of the building, ‘Spencer Contact’. This is a Christian charity that is particularly successful at collecting and re-distributing what can be called pre-loved furniture to families in need. We work together happily in an informal partnership.
Trust Rules OK
The Shed is an organisation where there are volunteers only. These are all able and experienced people and the Shed depends on the abilities and initiatives of every member. Groups sometimes ‘make their own arrangements’ when an idea emerges as a working project before others in the Shed catch-up, in the fashion of a Skunkworks. The culture is one in which trust rules OK! There is an elected committee that has overall responsibility for resolving issues but projects, decisions and progress are conducted by the Shed’s Forum meeting monthly at a ‘ShedMeet’. All Shedders are expected to attend this Forum when they are able and the event is facilitated by an appointed Convener.
The Shedders decide together how we are to develop and resolve on-going issues and undertake planning. At the regular ShedMeet we identify what needs to be done, how it is to be done and how we will organise it all to grow and flourish – working ‘shoulder to shoulder’. We are continually aware of pushing at the boundaries of what we know – always depending on every member having their say.
Members of the Shed Committee attend the Forum, note Forum decisions and question them as they find this to be necessary (rare!).
The Men’s Shed movement
Northampton Community Shed has roots in the Men’s Sheds movement started in Australia. We are a community based organisation with a dual purpose –
- to serve the health and wellbeing of members and
- to serve the health and wellbeing of the local community.
It has been described as a development of a man’s shed, as might be found in his garden – a place where he feels at home, pursuing his interests and deciding his own arrangements. It is a movement that started in Australia in the mid 1990’s that has since spawned over 1000 Sheds across that country. In the UK at the last count, there were over 400 Sheds, with more regularly added. Men (and now women also) follow their interests, working together ‘shoulder to shoulder’.
A Men’s Shed is a group of men sharing space, tools and other resources to work together on projects of their own choosing. They do this at their own pace in a safe and friendly social environment. It is a place for sharing skills, for informal learning and for exploring ideas. Members engage together following their curiosity, new pursuits and community projects. They find purpose and achievement through discovery, social interaction and collaboration. Men’s Sheds are bringing greater connection and vitality to communities.
It’s all about finding purpose and companionship while developing skills, making stuff and friends. A community of Shedders of all ages, together decide the Shed’s arrangements, creating for themselves a relaxed place for all to enjoy. They do this while funding their enterprise through the receipt of donations and securing support from grant sources.
Activities to be found in Men’s Sheds in Britain and other English speaking countries are many and varied. Woodwork is most common but metalwork, repair and restoration, electronics, alternative energy, gardening and many other activities are featured. Having fun, sharing ideas, conversation and making things is a great way to enjoy leisure in later life.