Community shed is boosted by offer of town centre premises

Roy Oaten and Colin Hayward 

Pioneering a community shed for Axminster: friends Roy Oaten and Colin Hayward - Credit: Barrie Hedges

Plans to establish an Axminster Community Shed have received a major boost with an offer to use a town centre property where men and women can connect, chat and create.
While providing a host of opportunities for new social interaction, organisers say their aim is also to contribute to socially beneficial community projects across the town. 
The offer of a base from which the ‘shedders’ can operate comes from Shane Morgan of Morgan York estates agents and involves a retail unit in St George’s Street, Axminster. 
Axminster Community Shed secretary Colin Hayward said: “We are absolutely delighted and hugely grateful to Shane. Our plan is to take over the premises in about a fortnight’s time with a view to running our first sessions in January.” 
In the meantime, the team driving the project will decorate the building and set up separate work stations for woodwork, metalwork, upholstery / needlework and a variety of other crafts. 
There will be no barriers to women joining the group, and the team promises that the social element will be as strong as the projects they plan to tackle for the local community. A weekly timetable will be generated in the near future. 

Axminster Community Shed is part of the national UK Men’s Sheds Association but has responded to interest from potential women members by adopting a more inclusive title. 
The momentum to create it has come from Colin and from friends Roy Oaten and John Froud  who have all previously had experience of Men’s Sheds. Their initial soundings brought an enthusiastic response from others and the group already has nearly 40 potential members. 
“Our aim is to create a community workshop where people can connect, converse, create and have fun,” said Roy. 
“We are keen to work with local authorities, businesses and other local groups and have already had great encouragement from Totally Locally Axminster, Light-Up Axminster, the Axminster Repair Café, ARC and the Community Waffle House.” 
With premises established, the priority is now to acquire a range of tools, and an appeal has been issued for donations of pre-used equipment while also raising the necessary funds to buy some new machinery. While members don’t have to be practical, there will be opportunities for members  to learn new skills if they wish to under the helpful eye of specialists who have long experience.  

 The group already has a variety of socially beneficial projects lined up and is keen to hear of others than can be considered. Priority will be give to those that are socially beneficial, help disadvantaged people, use local materials and are environmentally sustainable.  

While Men’s Sheds typically attract older men, many have younger members and women also. Whatever the activity, the essence of a Shed is not a building, but the connections and relationships between its members.  
Those driving the Axminster Community Shed firmly believe that it can also help reduce the impact of loneliness and isolation on the health and wellbeing of local people of all ages, but especially those in retirement. In East Devon, nearly 30% of men are aged over 65 and the group firmly believes that many of them would benefit from (and give benefit to) a Community Shed. 
“We have no doubt at all that the friendship that will flow from our Shed will be of particular long term benefit to people who are currently experiencing emptiness in their retirement years,” said Colin. “And if we can also provide some practical input to projects that benefit the wider community then we will be doing something very useful.” 
Further updates on the Axminster Community Shed can be found on its Facebook page. You can contact them direct by emailing Colin Hayward (colin.b.hayward@btinternet.com)
 

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