When the face of the green movement is young, female and Swedish, it is inspiring to see that a group of middle-aged English men and women are doing their bit for the environment, perhaps with just a little less publicity. But the Alresford Men’s Shed is more than just an environmental initiative, it provides vital support to the community.
The Men’s Shed movement originated in Australia but is growing rapidly across the globe. In England alone there are over 800 Men’s Sheds and more are opening all the time. The Alresford Men’s Shed has been running for over four years. In that time, it has established premises and equipment to enable it to work on well over 400 repairs and projects to extend the lives of machinery, repurpose articles, create useful items for the community and bring together members to work in a collegial and friendly environment. The Alresford Men’s Shed welcomes anyone, retired or working, male or female, old or young and promotes a strong message against the modern throwaway culture. In a way, it is spearheading a quiet revolution.
The Shedders also put their skills to use in community projects, such as designing and building a water wall for Cheriton Playgroup, Remembrance Poppy Frames for St John’s Church Tower, and constructing Church & Public Notice Boards. Items are often repurposed for the community which would otherwise be destined for landfill.
At its core the Men’s Shed provides an opportunity for people to get together to work with their hands, but that is to oversimplify its value to the community. Known as ‘Shedders’ the people who work on the projects have a variety of reasons for doing so. One Shedder told me “following the unexpected death of my wife joining the shed has been wonderful for me… The shed has become an important part of my life, it has helped so much in me coming to terms with what happened and provided great company at a difficult time in my life.” And they are not all men, two years ago the Shed welcomed its first female Shedder who says about her time in the Shed “everyone helps each other. It is an open exchange between all of us to find solutions to fix everyday little problems. We learn, we share, we laugh. It is a welcoming environment and around a cup of tea, we talk about everything, and stay in touch with what is happening in our town”.
As we all move to more sustainable ways of living the Men’s Shed would like to welcome more Shedders to its ranks, and not just for woodwork. The Shed welcomes anyone skilled in DIY, IT, Electrics, Welding, Painting, or even the ability to sell on Facebook, Gumtree, or Ebay. You can simply bring things in and repair them in a sociable atmosphere. Why not drop in on a weekday morning and see how the Shed functions and have a cup of tea? You don’t have to commit, come for a week or two and give it a try. Now that we are finally emerging from the restrictions of the pandemic, it’s a great opportunity to get back out into the community and meet like-minded people.
The Men’s Shed also wants to encourage more Shed supporters who can help the Shed by identifying potential community projects and by promoting the initiative more widely. This will enable the Shed to take on more upcycling and repurposing projects, both for the community and individuals in the area.
The Men’s Shed is currently housed in a disused factory facility in the Dean which is earmarked for demolition to make way for the new car park. The Shed is a charity that relies on fundraising to enable it to secure new premises in the town. Please drop in at the Shed, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow facebook.com/AlresfordMensShed/ to support this quiet green revolution in our community.