Swanwick Men’s Shed has been named Shed Community Project of the Year at the annual ShedFest Awards.
ShedFest, which is organised by the UK Men’s Sheds Association (UKMSA), was held at the University of Worcester Arena on Tuesday.
Ian Godfrey, manager of Derbyshire Benevolent Trust, was among the first to congratulate the ‘shedders’ on their success.
“I am delighted this project has been recognised in this way. I have visited the men’s shed on a number of occasions and have always been impressed at the work the volunteers undertake and the impact they are having in terms of offering effective community-based support,” says Ian, “It’s a really inspirational project and I am pleased that the trust has supported its work.”
One of the driving forces behind the Swanwick Men’s Shed is retired Derbyshire officer Charlie Parkes. The men’s shed is on a 48-acre farm site and is the first of its kind in the county. It follows the UKMSA model to allow men and women to make friends, take part in community projects, put their skills to work recycling, repairing or refurbishing furniture and mechanical items and help teach others to develop these skills.
Since its official opening in June 2017, it has proved a crucial life-line for people of all ages who might otherwise feel isolated. During school term time the shed, which is at the Turner Farm Project on Turners Lane (off Crays Hill), opens on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 3.30pm and from 10am until 3pm on Saturdays.
As well as the work within the shed, the ‘shedders’ have worked closely with Swanwick WI and the wider community in a garden project for the village residential home.
In their submission to UKMSA, they said: “We were faced with a bleak open space of a garden which housed nothing but a shed and two old tree stumps. The remit from the matron was to provide a safe, usable, outside space for residents to enjoy. The shedders, along with other members of the community, met on-site and came up with lots of ideas.
“They suggested where we might have raised planters which they could make from wood, reclaimed tree stumps to add to other tree stumps to form a stumpery. They worked closely with us and listened to what the community wanted. They researched types of raised planters that were suitable to be used by disabled residents and safe seating that was the right height to be comfortable for residents, staff, family and friends to use.
“This encourages families to spend time with their loved ones in a quiet sensory environment. It also encouraged residents to participate in a garden experience. It’s now providing an environment where wildlife can thrive.”
After raising money for the project with the local Rotary Club also providing funds, they made benches, planters and an obelisk which were delivered to the site where the shedders lined and filled them.
“This project has made a great impact on the lives of the residents, relatives, friends and staff of the Rowthorne Home for Older People. They watched when work was carried out and some took part in the planting and came out to sit on the seats. The home has now got its safe outside space and I am pleased to say the door to the garden is open from early morning to late at night,” the nomination stated.
Swanwick is definitely benefiting from the men’s shed with colourful raised planters and seats around the village and lots of obelisks have appeared all over the village, the county and as far afield as Scotland.
Swanwick Men’s Shed is associated with The Lighthouse Charity Shop, Turner Farm Project and Valley Cids, all of which benefit children and the local community. They help re-fit lighthouse charity shops and recently have refitted a warehouse that is the sorting hub of the charity shops.
Shedders have also helped families by supporting the re-use of tools and equipment after a bereavement. This has been a great comfort to families who have had to clear houses, sheds and garages with shedders putting the donated items to good use while also using recycled wood and upcycling and restoring furniture.