Eleven months after the initial meeting to discuss the possibility of opening a community workshop for residents of Henfield and surrounding areas, we opened the doors to welcome members for the first time on Tuesday 23rd January.
The development of ‘Community Sheds’ in the UK has gathered pace since research identified the health and wellbeing benefits for all adults. We believe the Henfield Shed is more than just a wooden shed at the bottom of the garden where we go to mend and make, invent and create, in splendid autonomy. We are a unique creative workshop space where both men and women can come and meet, make personal items and work collaboratively on Shed projects, whilst making and building friendships with other local people and becoming more engaged with the local community.
Currently we are in the process of creating a list of activities which will be chosen and organised by the Members. We have a range of creative projects under consideration on behalf of other organisations in the village. For example, we were recently commissioned to produce three types of bird nesting boxes to attract different birds. These boxes were made using tools donated and with the materials paid for by our funders. They were installed on trees within the local commons by the Henfield Conservation Volunteers in February. So you could say we literally have got off to a ‘flying’ start! We have spoken with the Sussex Wildlife Trust in a bid to work together on projects; and the Gardens & Arts have approached us to explore a possible commission for us to provide signage in the village. Members are also being encouraged to form groups to start sessions to work on their own projects in the shed, with help and training from other members with similar interests.
In the future we would like to introduce a monthly repair ‘drop-in’ where people in the local community can bring broken items to the Shed to be repaired – probably not electrical items, at least to start with! Hopefully one of our members with suitable repair skills will take on the task for the cost of materials and a small donation. We hope such initiatives will create an income stream to help ensure our sustainability.
We are expecting that suitably qualified people in the Shed and wider community will come and share their expertise with our members; for example, wood turning, carving and the art of tool sharpening. In addition, we would like to hold a series of workshops run by our members in which they will share their own skills in household maintenance with people in the village in return for a donation. We are also considering members’ outings to local places of interest, that reflect our practical values. All trips will be chosen by our members.
Throughout the year we plan to increase our profile by participating in village events, such as the Gardens & Arts weekend and the Christmas shopping night, and expect to have a stand at the Henfield Village Evening in April. We were very pleased to win the ‘Most Creative Tree’ category in the Christmas tree festival back in December. We now need to attempt go one step further this year and contest the best tree in show!
A priority for us is that we recognise our role in supporting local vulnerable adults at risk in the community. Local charities and our GPs will be able to refer clients at risk of social exclusion to us. In order to effectively manage such referrals, the Trustees will be taking part in Safeguarding training.
So if you are a child of the 40’s through to the 90’s and grew up without reliance on computers, tablets, mobiles or the internet; if you used to make things from sticky-backed plastic; watched the original Thunderbirds through to the Game of Thrones on TV; or listened to Abba through to Led Zeppelin, we would be interested in talking with you.
Please visit our website: henfieldshed.org.uk for further information. If you have a donation of tools, equipment or materials, want to enquire about joining us, if you have a suggestion about how the Shed can help the community and/or local groups, or if you think you can help us in any way, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org providing your contact details and one of the team will get back to you.
Finally, research from the Men’s Shed Movement has shown that as well as the enjoyment of creative and purposeful activity, there are also potential health benefits from being part of a community shed. Personally, when I left work the main thing I missed was the chat and social interaction with colleagues. Joining the Henfield Shed has recreated this aspect of my life and long may it continue.