Last week, the West Essex Members of the Men in Sheds project enjoyed some health and safety training on power tools over half term, so they could be ready to take part safely in construction and woodworking projects.
The West Essex Community Shed project is coordinated by CVSU (Council for Voluntary Service Uttlesford) in order to make a difference to men who may feel lonely or isolated. Many of the men taking part in the training are already highly skilled tradesmen and engineers, but they need to pass the safety training in order to be allowed to participate in the project. It’s up to the group to decide what kind of projects they want to get involved in, if any. It could be woodworking, gardening, metalwork or hobby crafts for example.
Men’s Sheds originated in Australia and have now become a global movement, giving men somewhere to talk in a way that’s comfortable for them, ‘a safe space’ supporting a renewed sense of identity, helping raise their self-esteem and providing a sense of value.
Chelmsford College are keen to support community and volunteer projects. Susan Hastings-Herbert (Shed Coordinator) asked Wendy Johnson at the College if they would help with the power tools training and the Men in Sheds members will also receive additional training from other providers to cover First Aid, Working with Vulnerable Adults and Health and Safety.
Trevor Bennet, a participant in the project says: "We didn’t realise how much was at the College. The Men in Sheds project is about occupying our brains. We have fun doing this. If we can help someone along the way, we will."
Susan Hastings-Herbert, Shed Co-ordinator for West Essex says: "We get regular feedback that the Men’s Shed is a life-saver. Men meet a great bunch of guys and often form lifelong friendships."
Wendy Johnson, Programme Area Manager for Painting, Decorating, Carpentry, Joinery, and Brickwork of Chelmsford College says: "We were very pleased to be able to contribute to such a worthwhile project. We very much enjoyed meeting and working with the ‘Shedders’ and hope that we can continue to support them in the future."
The project is funded by Essex County Council and West Essex CCG. There are over 400 Men’s Sheds in the UK. CVS Uttlesford are managing and delivering the project and have several partners including Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF), Rainbow Services, Harlow and with further support of Maldon District CVS.
The first shed was established in Little Canfield, Uttlesford and is located on the site of the community co-operative Local Food (& More!). A second one has been set up on the Rainbow Rural farm, Barnston, a third is proposed in Harlow. Anyone wanting to find out more can visit menssheds.org.uk
Photo caption: Left to Right: Susan Hastings-Herbert (Shed Co-ordinator), five members of the Men in Sheds Project, Pete Carey (Lecturer in Carpentry and Joinery at Chelmsford College) and Wendy Johnson (Programme Area Manager for Painting, Decorating, Carpentry, Joinery and Brickwork at Chelmsford College)