Then and Now – 2015 – 2022 in Our Sheds

When we started planning the first Shed in the Whitby district (among the first, if not the first, in North Yorkshire) one of the main aims was to make it FUN!. 

The driver was to help men who were at “some kind of a loss” to restore some the atmosphere of working life. The workmate and banter culture, the problem solving within a group, trying and learning new skills, sharing in the running and safe management of the Shed and the experience of seeing newcomers sustain their personal well-being.

The focus at the outset was woodworking and craft for men, in common with most Sheds . However, this focus has often branched out to new activities that stimulate interest from small groups (the ones and twos) in different activities. A simple example of this was Denis and Malcolm at Sleights Area Men’s Shed. Both suffered from dementia but both knew how to play dominoes! It was their bit of personal competitive fun.

Woodwork and dominoes are all part of a spectrum of creative, recreational, distractive activities. We soon saw that it was the distraction, camaraderie and outlook that were the magic ingredients. People with purpose.

To sustain the fun, it is important that a Shed evolves and that the Shedders are themselves part of the evolution. Teamwork. So, how have things evolved since SAMS was conceived in late 2015?

  • Expansion of venues and sessions
    • In Sheds. Sleights > Whitby Town > Staithers > Robin Hood’s Bay > Norton-on-Tees.  
    • In gender. Men, women added and then mixed Sheds. All Men’s Sheds in workshop atmosphere.
    • In age. Pre-pandemic moved into some C&YP workshops and activities
  • Expansion of relationships
    • Shed as an independent entity becoming part of a network of trusting partnerships
    • With other voluntary efforts building community and with well-being referral professionals like MIND, mental health bodies, NYCC Living Well etc.
    • Supporting Youth Justice programme
    • Social Prescribing Link Workers and similar roles in other “back to work” type agencies {latter to support confidence building)
    • With families of Shedders too.
    • Founder member of Whitby Community Alliance
  • Expansion in range of “work” and technology use
    • Pandemic introduced Zoom as a means to connect isolated Shedders. Some had to learn about social media and video for the first time. A couple of Shedders in their 80’s.
    • Community project support headlined by BayThorpe Shed’s renovation of a play park galleon and the penny-farthing for Tour de Yorkshire
    • 3D printing at Staithes and BayThorpe make their own. Automated production but a lot of brain exercising skills to create a designed part. Rather boring to watch the slow progress!
    • Norton-on-Tees Shed has taken to embroidery! Using a CNC controlled embroidery machine. An amazing set of coincidences that involved a Nigerian priest (and tailor!) and equipment that Whitby Shedder Marie had to sell on.  
    • The Sheds have evolved in terms of equipping. Norton Shed has benefited from BayThorpe Sheds modular approach to equipment storage and from Staithes’ “French Cleat” flexible tool storage.
    • In turn, Norton has installed ducted dust extraction which Staithes will soon follow. There is always ingenuity in Sheds.
  • Encouraging and facilitating new non-Shed activities and initiatives
    • Whitby Doing Place. An umbrella for varies small group activities on a Wednesday morning.
      • Sounds Creative digital music creation
      • Repair Shop (to start}
      • Home Chat by Zoom
      • Cafe Cart for refreshments 
      • Home schooling makers’ workshop
      • Krampus Krew and Shed operating at same time
    • Planning a Staithes Doing Place
      • Different activities 
      • Initially establishing a Community Growing project with poly-tunnel greenhouse and pallets. 
      • Also a safe children’s garden/recreation area
      • Wing mirror restored!

        Other activities to follow in conjunction with Staithes Sports & Social Club

    • Whitby district-wide Compassion Project
      • Based on Frome in Somerset’s project founded by a lady GP to involve community connectors simply pointing people to help through donating time to talk.
      • Main component is a database of services and activities that exist in Whitby district. 


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