Connect, Create, Converse

The Men’s Shed @St. Mary’s, Chard, was conceived after it was realised that although there are many social groups, not only at St. Mary’s, but also in Chard town, men were not attending them.  Therefore, for the purpose of bringing together men who were isolated and alone, the men’s shed idea was formed with the help of a small steering group of five men; Peter Stefanovic, Ian Jones, Jim Lamb, Terry Hackling, John     Rollings  and Robin Bailey. It should be mentioned here that our very own Liz Jones had the same inkling about a Men’s Shed too!

So, what is a Men’s Shed? The concept was developed in Australia. It’s a bit like the shed at the end of your garden where men like to ‘tinker’ with things, but on a much larger scale and in the company of other men. Anecdotally, it was found that interaction of this kind was of great benefit to men’s health and wellbeing.

The steering group agreed that the Men’s Shed should be linked to St. Mary’s church and with that in mind, a proposal was put to the PCC for the Men’s Shed to become a PCC authorised activity. This proposal was agreed unanimously, and the name of the shed was born: Men’s Shed @St. Mary’s, Chard. The next thing to consider was, where would the shed be based?

Ian and Liz Jones graciously offered their barn and workshop facilities at their smallholding on a free to use basis for the shed. This was, of course, a massive help towards the running costs of the shed as there would be no rent to find for the accommodation (we had use of Ian’s tools, too!); the knock-on effect is a low weekly subscriptions fee for the shedders (that’s what the members are called, Shedders) currently at only £3 per week for the two days the shed is open (Wednesday 2pm – 5pm, Thursday 1pm – 5pm).

The offer of the barn and workshop made it a simple choice regarding activities: one day would be allocated to social and the second day to woodworking. The reason for having two types of  activities was to attract as many men as possible; after all, not everyone wants to do woodwork.  Soon, the shed also intends to have allotments so that those who like growing vegetables will also be accommodated.

The next thing to acquire for the shed was funding to help with the set-up costs. We already knew that just the liability insurance alone would cost almost £500 annually. Funding applications were submitted which resulted in donations from the Royal Voluntary Service, Southend Schools Education Trust and the Rotary Club of Chard. There was also one private donation. The Men’s Shed @St. Mary’s is very    grateful for those donations because they were instrumental in getting the shed off the ground and helping the local community.

Having a social day at the club never really took off; when the doors were opened to members, it was obvious that the Shedders wanted to concentrate on woodworking projects. There are men with  different skills, and indeed level of skills, in woodworking, and those more able patiently taught and helped those who have less experience with the more technical aspect of the woodwork craft.

The existence of the shed, and what is provided here has become quite well known in the carers’ community, not only locally bu throughout Somerset. There are instances where men have been referred to the shed by GPs and one, from Honiton Hospital! There have also been requests for the shed to put up displays both locally and as far afield as Bridgwater; but this has put us into a little difficulty.

There are four vulnerable men attending the shed at this time. We would like to take more but unfortunately, for safety reasons, there aren’t enough ‘able-bodied’ men at the shed to manage the vulnerable men who need a one to one ‘buddy’ system. Can you help?

If you are interested in joining the shed, please contact Peter Stefanovic

email: mensshedchard@   gmail.com

Website: www.mensshedchard.com

HAPPY NEW YEAR!     Peter Stefanovic

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