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‘Men in Sheds’ now ‘Youth Shedz’ aims to make a difference

Men in Sheds is a service run by some local Age UKs to support older men who want to get together, share and learn new skills – all in the welcoming space of a ‘Shed’.

The movement has taken hold across Wales with sheds popping up in most large towns and some rural villages.

Age UK no longer runs the Men in Sheds project at a national level, but a number of local Age UKs still run it at a local level.

Now a new movement ‘Youth Shedz’ has burst onto the scene in North Wales and may look set to spread if the conditions are right. 

Youth Shedz Cymru gives formerly homeless young people the opportunity to transform derelict buildings into a space they can call their own.

Activities include restoration of old furniture, printing, repairs and socialisation. 

The movement may also play a part in combating the ‘County Lines’ drugs issue, which has been a blight on so many communities across Wales. 

The founder Scott Jenkinson, a former heroin addict is hoping to see Youth Shedz in every town in Wales.

You can read the full BBC report here 

What is ‘Men In Sheds’?

Most people’s perceptions of men in sheds may just be bearded old blokes tinkering away at the bottom of the garden either as an escape from domestic chores or as would be inventors of items that may or may not be the world’s next big thing. We are led to believe that the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates started out in a shed. One imagines it was not the standard 6×4 shiplapped versions we see in most gardens. Things have moved on since Tadcu constructed his own shed out of a rickety 3×2 frame with the grass as the floor and tin sheets fashioned for roof and walls. A veritable sauna in summer and an ice cave in winter. He would inevitably sit outside on a chair in Summer smoking his pipe and opt for the comforts of the parlour in winter where he could tinker away with a fret saw making something incredibly useful like a cork noticeboard.

So it was with trepidation that I set off for Ferryside on Saturday (Jan 7) towards the old education centre, which now resembles a ‘very old’ education centre. I had to check the sat nav I invented earlier in the day to check that this was the location as it did look deserted. One building stood out as having received man care. It was painted black and had a sign saying ‘Men’s Shed’. Through the windows I could see what looked like some old blokes with beards pottering about and a distinct sound of machinery in operation. As I entered I was confronted with what looked like one of the huts from the Great Escape with just about every character from the film busy fashioning tables, candlesticks, window frames. There was I was told later even a boat being built at one time, now moored at Ferryside yacht club.

Keen supporter of Men In Sheds: Robert Gunstone

The men turned towards me still holding their tools and for one moment the thought of  a swift exit crossed my mind. Chairman of the group Bob Gunstone  greeted me and introduced me to the other men and before I knew it I was sitting at a large table swigging a mug of tea and chatting about 3×2’s spanners, lathes and plans to build a man cave on wheels. Bob began by telling me how the project had come about. He said, “The County Council were very generous and offered us the building rent free. We applied for grants to set up the group and pay for some items including tools, wood and to cover the electricity costs. We are open to anyone over 18 and they have to take part in a one day induction course to make sure they understand all the health and safety elements. The membership is £25 per year and we ask for £1 towards tea and coffee. We have become one of the top community resource here in Ferryside.”

Speaking about the benefits of joining the group he said, “It is a great place and it is a great place for any village or town. We are fortunate to have a property of this size. It is well kitted out. We are Ferryside and District so if there isn’t a shed near you you can come along here. The community have contributed to this We had a £5,000 grant from Awards for All, £1,00 for the electrics came from the Royal Voluntary Service. We also had donations from Coleg Sir Gar. Our oldest member is 82.”

The group of men at Ferryside Men In Sheds

Group member Mark Harwood who is a a joiner said, “We are an open club intended to be a facility for guys from Ferryside and the surrounding area. It is a workshop space but you don’t have to come and make anything. You can come along and enjoy the social aspect of the group. We have cabinet makers, carpenters metal work specialists and lots of other people with different skill sets. This place stood empty for a number of years. The community put a project together to breathe new life into the place and it is well underway but there is still a long way to go. There are plans to open up a few other projects and there are people moving in and setting up in office space. About 25% of the site is occupied. It is called a men’s shed but we have nothing against women coming in and taking part. We are part of the Men’s sheds movement but we don’t exclude anyone.”

Another member Kevin visits from Llanelli. He is in a wheelchair and the shed has been adapted for disability accessibility. He said, “It gets me out of the house. I would be sitting at home all day otherwise. I have a shed in the back garden but I would be on my own. I enjoy the social side of the group.”

Anyone wishing to join the group is able to work on their own projects or join in on one of the group’s community projects. The Men in Shed’s facility is open on Saturdays from 10am  until the last two men leave the shed.

The group can be found on Facebook www.facebook.com/ferrysidemensshed

Watch the BBC film of Youth in Shedz here:

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