New Local Community Shed

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Local men and women are being encouraged to dust off their tool boxes and get involved in a new local community Shed – being planned by the Foxlowe Arts Centre in Leek.

The Gateway Shed is in early days of its development and is looking for local people to get involved to help shape its activities and support the development of this new community workshop space. It is planning on becoming one of a national network of UK based Men’s Sheds that are popping up across the country – a place for making, mending and hobbies where local people feel at home and pursue practical interests with a high degree of autonomy.

The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia back in the 1990’s and since the first Shed opened in the UK 5 years ago, there are now 187 in the UK – offering a place for people to come together to work on individual or community projects, where members share the tools and resources they need to work on projects of their own choosing at their own pace and in a safe, friendly and inclusive venue.

Shed’s activities vary depending on the size and interests of their members – but usually involve making or mending in wood (e.g. carpentry, joinery, turning, carving, whittling, marquetry, furniture renovation) but also include pottery, metalworking, bike repair, garden craft, electronics, tool renovation, boat renovation, model engineering (model railways, planes) and even building a car! Reclamation, reuse and restoration feature strongly – and although Sheds mostly attract older men, many include men of any age, women and young people.

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Peter Kent-Baguley and Cliff Deighton of the Foxlowe Arts Centre are excited about the new project – “The Foxlowe Arts Centre owns a derelict single garage at the back of the property that we have earmarked to become The Gateway Shed. Early stage work on getting it fit for purpose as a workshop space has already begun thanks to an anonymous donor giving us the funding to make the roof watertight. However, there is still a lot to be done – and we are really hoping that other members of the community will be as excited about this as we are, and help us get this off the ground”.

The Gateway Shed is being set up with the support of the Royal Voluntary Service who have launched a new national partnership with the UK Men’s Sheds Association who support Sheds across the UK.

Jo Phillips, who lives in Leek, is the Royal Voluntary Service’s national Project Manager for Men’s Sheds. Royal Voluntary Service exists to enrich the lives of older people and to ensure that they can continue to live life to the full.

Jo says – “We are working with communities to empower them to come together to design, co-produce and own their own Shed – and in turn, to tackle the increased incidence of social isolation among the growing population of older people. I’m delighted to be able to support the set-up of a Shed in my home town and would urge anyone interested in using a community workshop space to come and talk to us”.

The Gateway Shed is now looking for funding, donations of workshop equipment, tools and wood to help the set up. Three workbenches, a wood turning lathe and a variety of other tools have already been donated to help kick start the creation of the workshop space. It is anticipated that the Shed will be able to offer volunteer tutors and space to learn new skills or make practical projects, in return for a small membership fee.

Anyone, male or female, of any age, interested in finding out more about how to get involved with The Gateway Shed is invited to call in at either of the two current onsite sessions: Tuesday 10am – 12pm or Saturday 10am – 1pm or contact Peter on 07773 464 626 or Jo on 07423 471018 or email:  gatewayshed@gmail.com.

Keep up to date with progress of the Shed by “liking” the Facebook page www.facebook.com/gatewayshed.

The Gateway Shed Membership Form is available to download by following the link, as is a copy of the Gateway Shed flyer.

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