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Old 24th Sep 2018, 7:34 pm   #1
David G4EBT
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Default 'Men In Sheds'

The thread on 'enclosures' for projects has developed into a 'Men In Sheds theme', which I think is worthy of a topic in its own right, rather than to take the original thread further off topic. 'Men in Sheds' is particularly relevant to forum members who don't have a well equipped workshops with such equipment as bandsaws. As well as making equipment enclosures, there's the repair and refurbishment of 'woodie' cabinets which might be relevant to 'Men in Sheds'.

I hope the thread is sufficiently relevant to the forum, but I'll respect the judgement of the moderators in that regard.

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Originally Posted by Dave Moll View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
I get the impression that the Men's Shed Association isn't as well established in the UK as it is in Australia. There isn't a branch in Oxford, for example, a city of around 150,000 people. There does seem to be one about 10 miles to the south though, south of Abingdon in the middle of nowhere.
There used to be a "Men in Sheds" workshop in Cockermouth, run by Age UK. Unfortunately, it has now closed down.
There's a 'Men In Sheds' about 1/4 mile from me on the outskirts of my village to the west of Hull. They're open on Tuesdays and Thursdays 1000 till 1600. I have no involvement in it, but I believe it's quite well equipped and well supported. I’ve no doubt that any ‘Men In Sheds’ group will have the equipment to enable wooden boxes for projects to be made, (bandsaws, planer/thicknessers etc), albeit the local group seems to focus mainly on making ‘planters’ and other garden equipment, probably because there’s an ongoing demand for such things.

I can understand why many areas are devoid of 'Men in Sheds' groups.

Apart from finding suitable premises and kitting it out with equipment at a sensible cost, there's the ongoing costs of premises rental, heat, light, power, insurance etc. - to some extent, possibly offset by income from members subs and sales of manufactured items. The main hurdle with all such organisations is that there are often lots of people who want to join them, but there's a dearth of people who are willing and competent to run them in this litigious age.

The first requirement is a committee of competent people to deal with all statutory aspects, especially where workshop equipment is concerned. Notably health and safety issues, PAT testing, risk assessments, accident procedure/First Aid, a written health and safety policy, asset register, insurance, data protection, safeguarding and supervision of vulnerable adults, disabled access, finance and so forth. In many respects, similar requirements to those of an employer.

The smaller the membership, the harder it is to form a committee who are willing and competent to take on such responsibilities. As we live longer, there’s an increasing need for such organisations as ‘Men In Sheds’ but given the onerous responsibilities, not so many with the drive and desire to set them up and run them, which is rather a shame, though understandable.

I'm secretary of a Woodturning Society with 50 members and know all too well just how involved this has become.

As an example, it's a condition of our public liability insurance that anyone such as a visiting demonstrator must have their own public liability insurance. We send potential demonstrators a letter asking them to confirm this in writing. Recently, a demonstrator responded to say he didn’t have any cover and that he’d demonstrated at other clubs who hadn’t asked him for it, so he assumed that they covered him. (They use the same insurance scheme that our Club and most other GB Clubs do, so he wasn't covered).

If the demonstrator caused an accident or sustained one, if negligence is found, the liability for any claim would be declined by the Club's insurer, so would be directed against the committee members of that club ‘jointly and severally’. Thus if one committee member lived in a rented house and had no assets, but another lived in a £500k house and had £250k in the bank, the latter would end up homeless and penniless, but the former would be unaffected. A competent committee is aware of such risks, and reads the small print of their insurance policy requirements and complies with them, but clearly, not all do.

I'm not whinging about this - as a member of a competent committee of a well-run hobby club we see to it that we do meet all requirements, and that's as it should be.

It would be interesting to hear from anyone who is involved with a Men in Sheds Group in the UK.
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Old 24th Sep 2018, 7:43 pm   #2
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

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I hope the thread is sufficiently relevant to the forum, but I'll respect the judgement of the moderators in that regard.
We in turn depend on the judgement of posters, to keep it relevant!
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Old 25th Sep 2018, 4:40 am   #3
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

Just going to the organising/funding/liability aspect for a moment, that to a large extent is covered/handled by the (in Oz) Australian Men's Shed Association and which in turn is govt funded, so that solves a lot of the problems (there are other associations that perform much the same duties).

To get on to the radio side of things and I will have to go off and find it, one Men's shed has a Radio Club, another has a general electronics club and ours (Tintinara Community Men's Shed) has me, so I get to be the resident repairer.

We have also built displays using some of the old signalling equipment for the local railway museum, using an Arduino in one case.

It can be seen that there are a large range of skills amongst the membership in a Men's Shed besides just the woodworking/metalworking aspect.
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Old 25th Sep 2018, 7:07 am   #4
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

These are around in NZ as well. I don't know much about them, but there are periodically articles in the Southland Times about them (examples here and here.

The names that crop up in the Invercargill one tend to be a mix of retired builders and other trades, and names that I've seen around a bit (I was on the local Access Radio board with the author of the February article in the 1990s, before NZ on Air forced a restructure to remove programme makers from the board). These guys will be well aware of both public liability and OSH regulations, and like Australia it looks like there's a national body which will make sure operations are up to standard.

All up it's a great idea. I know an old bloke (dad) who isn't involved, but has to be doing something for someone - he's more likely to be building shelves, setting up an Access database, building storage for sound gear at Church or cursing at a Raspberry Pi which isn't doing PHP for a website properly, but if he stops doing that he may start acting his age (81)
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Old 26th Sep 2018, 5:39 am   #5
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

I hope I dont bore anyone!!

Some pics of our shed: https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...2&postcount=33
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Old 26th Sep 2018, 5:51 am   #6
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

A couple more.

WE have some half decent tools, NOTE they are not really industrial quality, more advanced hobbyist stuff. For electricity, the government gave us a 20 kilowatt solar system with backup battery as part of a grant, so we actually sell electricity back to the power company.

"Repairs" is a photo of a rocking horse that was found in a paddock and mostly rotted away. After some weeks it was rebuilt by our first aid officer, who has an excellent repution in Queensland Amulance Service, where he served for almost 40 years

It can still be seen where the tracks used to be in the photo "rear". So our front and rear decks are at "railway truck" height.

I will do more photos of the things that we make, as time goes by, including some "project boxes" that could be suitable for electronics.

Thanks to David for the new discussion group, I like to think it's fun to have a bit of a gabble about things we do, especially when he himself, produces excellent looking projects well worthy of a bit of chatter.

Regards, Joe.
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Old 26th Sep 2018, 9:13 am   #7
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

Those are amazing facilities for what in the UK would be considered a remote medium sized village. I know the Australian government adopted it as a public health programme and it seems to have really taken off there. It's a great idea.
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Old 26th Sep 2018, 10:02 am   #8
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

Competition time, I'll have to get some pics of the gear in our shed tomorrow if I remember the camera.

We are in the old Goods Shed which was going to be pulled down if we hadn't taken it over. Trouble is, it wasn't big enough, so we are in the process of fitting out 9 x 24m extension.

And the most important thing in the shed:
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Old 26th Sep 2018, 10:36 am   #9
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

AHH Terry :0,
We dont fine you for raising an alarm !!
Coffee and tea and biscuits are always free and on offer for ANY visitors.
Plus sometimes a few of us make cakes, biscuits etc that are also on offer.
Local home grown fruit and vegies are usually there every day.

I will post some pics of projects next, NOT made by myself, but part of the community.
Also a few pics of our wood store, and our collection of pallet wood.
We have perhaps 20 pallets a week ( Radiata Pine timber usually ) donated by the Office Supply shop next door, PLUS as I mentioned, most of us have written into our will, our "junk" will be donated to the shed.
After all, the misses will probably skip it .

I noticed some " static" regarding insurance and liability .
WE pay a once off member ship fee for "life", long as it may be, and $40 per annum for insurance cover. More pictures to come, in the hope it may inspire somebody in UK, to try put something together.
DARE I mention it, about half of our members are POHM's .
Oh and Joe ( NOT me) who is Irish.

Joe

( BTW POHM stands for : Prisoner Of Her Majesty )
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Old 26th Sep 2018, 11:32 am   #10
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I will post some pics of projects next, NOT made by myself, but part of the community.
Please bear in mind the relevance to this forum
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Old 26th Sep 2018, 12:41 pm   #11
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

Given the great interest in various "restoration" programs on TV, an ageing population [ie us] anxiety about lack of practical "nous" in younger generations and also the generation "divide" [so called] access to electronic workshops would be a useful investment for any government to support and set money aside for. I'm looking at the "Men in Sheds Book" perched on the shelf above me as I type but I think a more generic title would be needed to include all genders [there's a lot of them now] and young people as well. Raspberry Pie seems to have gone down well there! Perhaps a title for electronics/craft/engineering along the lines of "Sure Start" [for assistance with learning about Child Care] eg" The Learning Repair Centre" or something a lot better than that!

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Old 26th Sep 2018, 1:49 pm   #12
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

Instead of insurance can't there be a disclaimer form to be signed? I signed one recently to be allowed to climb the "Stack" at Kew pumping station, 270 odd steps not meeting modern standards, worth the climb (it was a bit of a puff) wonderful view.
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Old 26th Sep 2018, 2:01 pm   #13
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

One of my fundamental principles in life is never to try to create your own wheel when several already exist.

There is quite a significant "maker" movement - see https://www.themanufacturer.com/arti...aker-movement/ - which I think would include the 'men in sheds' space, along with the 'hackspace' community - https://www.hackspace.org.uk/ - of similar intent.

Some of these are really rather well-equipped, with stuff like flypresses/guillotines, CNC machining, 3D printing, MIG/TIG welding, four-post vehicle-lifts being not unusual.

(Must admit, I don't like the term 'hackspace' though - to me the term 'hack' implies criminal misuse of computer facilites - something I spent the last ten years of my business life defending against!)

Of course there are inevitable insurance/liability issues - you don't let a newbie loose with a flypress.

Rather than starting up a 'men in sheds' why not see if there's a hackspace/makerspace near you?
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Old 26th Sep 2018, 6:11 pm   #14
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

Out of interest, I've just checked on the 'Men In Sheds' website to see how many Sheds there are within a 25 mile radius of my location, and discovered that there are five. As I said earlier, one is close to where I live, on the outskirts of West Hull, another is at Scunthorpe - quite a sizable town, but I was a bit surprised to see where the other three are located. One is at a small village well away from centres of population, called Home on Spalding Moor. Another is on the coast at a small seaside town called Withernsea, and a fifth is at another small seaside town - Bridlington. In terms of catchment areas for membership, if a radius of say 15 miles is drawn, at both Withernsea and Bridlington, half of that area is in the North Sea, and the radius inland has more cabbages than chimney pots. (Holme on Spalding Moor doesn't have any sea - just double the number of cabbages and a dearth of chimney pots).

But that said, all of those areas have sufficiently enterprising people who are prepared to take on the responsibility and initiative to start and run a shed, with all that entails, and to promote it to attract members. There's no doubt that it all of those locations there will be many who would/could benefit from membership, but whilst many may seek companionship, not everyone is 'clubbable' or willing to get fully involved.

In looking at the 'Men in Sheds' website, I noted that at present in the UK, there are:

471 established sheds,
A further 132 sheds in development,
An estimated 11,300 ‘Shedders’ benefiting directly from membership.

The site has helpful resources, which underline how involved it all becomes - as with any hobby organisation.

*Templates and examples for managing your Shed’s memberships, including disclaimers for new and renewing members and an example Code of Conduct.
*Information, advice and example documents for if or when your Shed decides to become a charity or other type of organisation.
*Information, templates and best practice examples for your Shed’s Management Committee or Trustees in governing the Shed’s finances and procedures.
*Help in understanding the various insurance products relevant to your Shed and tips to help your Shed become more insurable.
*Income generation and fundraising: Tips and advice on earning income and saving costs to keep your Shed sustainable and some helpful guidance on applying for funding.
*Tips and templates for promoting your Shed to attract new members and support from individuals and businesses in your local community.
*Tips and templates to help you measure the success of your Shed and set you up with valuable information that can help you to secure funding and support.
*Guides and templates giving you everything you need to create robust data protection procedures in line with best practice and compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations.

Lots of people will have held responsible positions during their working lives gaining experience and skills in many of the areas outlined above, but whether or not in their later years - perhaps with failing health - they are willing and able to take on those quite onerous duties and responsibilities is quite another matter.

Hats of to those that do and every success to the Men in Sheds initiative.

https://menssheds.org.uk/

https://menssheds.org.uk/shed-support/resource-library/

There was a time when Adult Education classes in the UK thrived and had reasonable fees, but the withdrawal of funding over the last 20 or so years and the re-setting of priorities has resulted in fees increasing steeply, so numbers of applicants decline, then the courses don't attract sufficient numbers, so don't run. Courses in plumbing, bricklaying, carpentry, model engineering, have all fallen by the wayside unless they are vocational rather than recreational courses.

I'm not making a political point there, but maybe 'Men in Sheds' is filling that vacuum? All to the good if so.
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Old 26th Sep 2018, 6:53 pm   #15
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Must admit the idea intrigues me as my sheds are the places to get away from people/the outside world and fix things. Cannot think of anything worse than having a group of my fellow men in the same place!
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Old 27th Sep 2018, 10:23 am   #16
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Hi David thank you for the time you have spent providing all the information.
I’m going to see if there is a men’s shed close to me.
I’m quite happy “working” in my shed, but I’m also interested to see how it would be in a men’s shed environment, having spent all my working life in industry working alongside both sexes I do miss the company, most of the time!
Cheers
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Old 27th Sep 2018, 11:03 am   #17
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Default Re: 'Men In Sheds'

Population density and property prices may make establishment difficult in UK towns and cities, especially given the lack of support and subsidy from central government. There aren't many disused rail depots available to hobbyists in Britain.
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Old 27th Sep 2018, 1:31 pm   #18
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Hi David thank you for the time you have spent providing all the information.
I’m going to see if there is a men’s shed close to me.
John
The nearest ones to you John appear to be:

Rhayader, Powys, LD6 5ER (19 miles away?)

Llandrindod Wells, Powys, Wales LD1 5PL (23 miles away?).

Overall, there are quite a lot of Sheds in Wales, but in pockets here and there. For example, there are five in close proximity at Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Abergele, Rhyl and Prestatyn. As in East Yorks, all small coastal towns. Maybe the sort of places that older people go to retire?

I can well see the appeal for men who are perhaps widowed in later life and don't have much social contact. As an example, without naming the actual Shed, here's a write-up of one:

Quote:

Open every Monday & Tuesday from 10.00 - 15.00, We have a fully fitted (woodworking) workshop, poly-tunnel, new allotments, raised beds, Community Garden, meeting, Games and Arts/Crafts rooms, IT facilities, Accessible kitchen and toilets. Mens' Meals are provided each day at a cost of just 50p for a cooked meal!

End quote.

So, a broad range of activities, a fully equipped woodworking workshop and no more 'out of the freezer/boil in the bag' ready meals for lunch either!
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Old 27th Sep 2018, 1:55 pm   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John10b View Post
...
I’m quite happy “working” in my shed, but I’m also interested to see how it would be in a men’s shed environment, having spent all my working life in industry working alongside both sexes I do miss the company, most of the time!
Cheers
John
This is the main premise for the establishment of the Men's Shed movement. A place where (originally) men could socialise while working along side others on a project or just to sit and enjoy a coffee and conversation.

Similar to the function of forums such as this where discussions about your hobby, the exchange of information and skills and a general feeling of belonging can be enjoyed.
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Old 27th Sep 2018, 3:11 pm   #20
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Thank you for info David. The concept sounds very good and I like the idea of “talking shop” and putting the world to right, over early morning tea before the chargehand cracked the whip.
Slightly off course but I did consider looking into joining the U3A (university of the 3rd age ?), but they didn’t seem to have a technical group.
Cheers
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