A very good question with no good answer unless you believe a Shed can improve the lot of isolated men and women who come.
Our Sheds all small and really 10 – 12 Shedders is the realistic limit for attendance on a regular basis. We cope with more when the occasion arises but management stress goes up!
The main way we measure success – or points on the road to it – is by the change in people. We see it in their manner and on their faces. What changes?
- The manner they come in – no hesitancy to be among others they now know
- Realisation that there is no expectation of what they might be able to do, “no pressure”
- Realisation that it is not work but activity that is rewarding/enjoyable and has a result to show for it.
- Recognising that just holding a piece of wood in place is an important role!!
- Feeling free to groan, moan and grumble but not to sto learn.tay there for long:-)
- Accepting, giving and being an audience to banter! Pulling each others legs with precision. A skill to learn.
- Losing oneself in a problem to solve but not stressed out any more. Someone else will know!
- Being in the family way – but without consequences!
- Discovering the uniqueness of others and the peculiarities in themselves.
- . . . . .
A hundred ways that say we are each accepted by one another for who we are and the journey we may be on.
However, that is still not measvurable unless we move into using facial recognition of smiles and tottting up “smiling hours” for each Shedder. How else can we get a handle on it?
Why not ask them?
So we have. We are inviting Shedders at all our Sheds to contribute their experience of Shed benefits from their perspectives. Ultimately to compile them into a volume under the title “Me and My Shed“. We did something similar 2 years ago entitled “Hands On”.
So here goes with a piece by new Staithes’ Shedder Malcolm. With us about a month and a man of ideas. (We could do without him disturbing our peace).
“About 6 years ago I moved to be with my partner who has lived close to Staithes in North Yorkshire for all of her life. I was widowed 24 years ago and lived some distance away. Although I am very much a stranger here, I have been accepted and made very welcome by her family and friends in this beautiful part of North Yorkshire.
My life has, and still is, turning around. As a couple, we are both retired so we have loads of time on our hands. Too much time on my hands!
Looking back on it all, after 40 years in a work environment, socialising and working with others, then to be widowed, made redundant, then reach retirement age with no prospect of productive work, to fin a small garage to build a workshopeel isolated, cabin’d up within four walls of the house, too much TV and computer time, little to no space in a small garage to build a workshop – what’s the point of it all?
I recently discovered the Men’s Shed organisation with a network across the UK. The Staithes Men’s Shed I found was still in the process of starting up in terms of Shed layout.
Importantly to me, the Staithes Men’s Shed was getting me out of the house.
Of even greater importance, it was helping me to meet up with others who came from areas around the coast and moors who were in similar circumstances to my own.
To socialise and work with others, to build a workshop. I have never has a router, a a table saw, a band saw, or a lathe for wood turning, or experienced working with such equipment, having neither the space nor being able to justify the expense of buying such tools.
It is early days yet, but joining the Men’s Shed has opened another door in my life.
Finally, when I was first widowed, made redundant, wondering what the point of it all was, my sister gave me a copper wall plaque of Desiderata by the Americam writer Max Ehrmann. It resonated with me and the circumstances I found myself in, as it may well do with others.
These days, my philosophy is, figuratively speaking, if some event or someone opens a door for me, if possible I will walk through it. The Staithes Shed has opened such a door!
Now a text message from Shedder Elaine in Whitby which speaks of the impact we have on one another. Name left out, though I doubt the couple would mind. This backs up Malcolm’s message above about what Sheds do at the personal level.
Today I was in the car and saw xxxxxx and his wifethey were walking along chatting and laughing. It was one of those moments where I feel privileged to know the people I do.
Yes I know, I’m a soppy sentimentalist but thought you’d understand????
Soppy? Sentimentalist? Elaine? We could not possibly comment!
Finally, a rarity. Late Friday afternoon Graham had to answer some urgent questions from VIY (remember them last year doinf the youth practical projects?). They also needed a photo of Graham volunteering in a Shed, hands on.
Problem . . . . .
a) he rarely touches a tool.
b) he always takes the photos and no selfies
Under pressure to deliver a photo in 5 minutes he went into his son’s garage, grabbed a drill there and what turned out to be a breadboard, and persuaded his daughter-in-law to snap him.
Just note that it is a breadboard he is about to drill and it was a masonry bit. Nobody was hurt doing this stunt other than Graham’s pride.