“A break in kills a Shed” says Phill Wheatley, Chair of Nailsea Social Shedders. And the Shed he’s talking about isn’t any common or garden shed – Nailsea Social Shedders are part of the ‘Men and Sheds’ movement, which offers men – and in this case women too – the opportunity to share a practical hobby and socialise all while helping their local community.
The Shedders run a ‘Repair Café’ Tuesdays from 1pm to 4pm repairing, sharpening and cleaning household gadgets for local people. This could be anything from vacuums, fires and shears to lawnmowers and a metal rocking horse.
The group used a £3,493 grant from the North Somerset Older People’s Community Grant (a joint grants programme between Quartet and St Monica’s Trust) to buy a secure 7ft by 8ft shipping container to store their tools and machinery and accommodate a work bench. The grant also paid for advertising and equipment.
As Phill explains: “Within recent months we’ve had two separate requests from widows to repair bird tables built by their husbands who have now passed. This is when the value of things shift, not just a bird table, but something made with love…”
“This in effect is what the Repair Café has come to mean, a sense of belonging, providing emotional nourishment for those participating in the repair side, prolonging stuff from being taken down the tip, good for the environment, good for the people who bring things to us for fixing… We do not do it for any monetary gain, just for a ‘donation’ which helps us pay the rent and keep going.”
Visit any Tuesday and you’ll be welcomed by the sound of chatter and the occasional blast of a drill as the group carry out repairs as well as make bird tables, bug houses and signposts for sale.
While Nailsea is not a particularly deprived area, older people do suffer social isolation – groups like this do a great job helping the older community to socialise and make new friends – improving health and wellbeing.
The Shedders moved to the 2nd Scout Group building on Hannah More Road in Nailsea in spring 2017 giving the group somewhere permanent to keep their tools and machinery.
Having a group like the Shedders around, who thrive on a practical project, benefits both the scout group and the local community. “Last year the Shedders repainted the scout hut, and sorted out the gutters that needed cleaning and repair. So in exchange for low rent we get something in return. It’s a symbiotic relationship” explains Rich Simmons, Chairman 2nd Nailsea Scouts Committee.
This symbiotic relationship is at the heart of the Shedders project – it’s not just a group of people getting together to make and repair things. As Paul Wootton says: “I come for the fellowship, I like that we’re unisex. Secondly, I like that what we do is for the community, as well as for ourselves.”
Roderic (Roddy) McNeill, one of the founding members, edits the group’s newsletter. Roddy says: “I was working in my shed at home but here I get to use tools I could never have afforded at home.”
The group is busy promoting the Repair Café and inviting new members to join. Having grown from just two members to 14 regularly coming along on Tuesdays, the group is most definitely looking to the future.
If you want to know more about this particular Shed Café, contact the Chair Phill Wheatley by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07795 117944.
For the cost of a grant from us, Nailsea Social Shedders have been given an opportunity to connect with others, create and offer a valued local service.