Men in Sheds is a simple but effective concept, enabling men and women to work together in congenial surroundings doing something they enjoy and feeling the satisfaction of achieving a useful end product.
The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia as a way of preventing isolation for retired or out-of-work men, bringing them together and putting their skills to good use, but many sheds now have women members, too.
Dorchester Men’s Shed, started by Graeme Trinder, was originally based at Whitfield Farm, but in June 2015 moved to its current home at Kingston Maurward. Start-up funding for the group came from Dorset Partnership for Older People Programme (POPP) and from Magna.
The workshop contains a wide range of wood-working tools – band saws, a swing-arm saw, lathe, pillar drill, morticer, mitre-cutter, belt sanders and disc sanders for members to use, or they can bring in their own tools if they prefer.
Dorchester Men’s Shed is a not-for-profit community workshop, and membership is open to men and women aged 18 and over. The Dorchester branch currently has 28 members aged between mid-30 to 80+ predominantly men but with some women. The annual membership fee is £40.
If members are working on a community project workshop, sessions are free. If they wish to use the group’s wood-working tools for their own private project then the charge is £5 per session. The workshop is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays and members can come and go as they please.
When I visited they were making 150 bird boxes for Silverlakes’ sister site in Gloucestershire, and were also restoring an Edwardian desk for Kingston Maurward. Recently they had made finger posts for Dorset AONB. For the town’s Christmas Cracker they made and sold decorations, bowls and coasters.
The atmosphere is jovial but the men were very engaged in their work. When I asked them what they particularly enjoyed about coming to the workshop, they said it was great to be able to meet like-minded people and actually achieve something useful.
From their membership they get companionship, exchange knowledge and learn new skills.
They said it was good to have somewhere to meet people other than the pub! It was obvious that they were all enjoying the camaraderie, which, of course, involves breaks for chats over a cuppa. There was lots of laughter.
These days, when gardens are getting smaller and many live in flats, having a shed is becoming less possible. What could be nicer than a communal shed with excellent equipment and friends with whom to enjoy shed-time.
To join contact the secretary either by calling 01305 267722, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information visit dorchestermensshed.org.uk