THE SHED – WHAT NOW
It is now the right time to inform you on the ‘current state’ of the Shed. Since the Shed opening in March this year real progress has been made. The Wednesday session has seen numbers slowly increasing with over 30 men attending on occasion and lots of activity and a Thursday session is being trialled. Saturdays are fairly constant. In addition, once a month, the Northside Mens’ Group has a great night of speakers and socialising at the shed.
The purpose of the shed has always been to be a safe place for men to come. In the Committee’s view the shed has been successful in that endeavour. One of our members John Collins read the following comments in the British Guardian newspaper of 7 Oct 14 : ‘If I didn’t come to the shed, I’d be alone, watching TV’ | Emma Howard. The following was also cited in the article ‘Men’s Sheds, a communal woodworking project that started in Australia, has taken off in the UK and is helping men to combat isolation and loneliness’. So what we are part of in Canberra is now a global movement.
In the case of this shed there is also a possible secondary purpose and that centres on utilising the talents of people who have hands on experience with tools. It is this ‘experience’ that has made this letter important.
If our Shed is to be successful with its secondary purpose, and not limited to using basic tools, and that is something that you will really decide by your support, the following needs to occur:
Fume Extraction system
Welding Bay Safety Curtain
Dust extraction system
Overhead power supply to Woodwork area
Isolation switches on ‘fixed’ machines.
I have been advised that approx $7 000 is what would enable the achievement of the listed items. This is a lot of money and you have a right to know why these items are essential. For your health and safety the management of the shed must ensure that fumes do not circulate in the workplace but are vented outside. The safety curtain ensures the safety of all by ensuring that welding flash is contained. Dust extraction ensures that when you work you are not subject to fine particles putting your health at risk. Item d is simply about safety, safety, safety. Lastly item e is about ensuring that the shed itself can be shut down, as well as any machines so we are accident free and most importantly have the confidence of being safe.
If the shed is to be more than a meeting place, and in addition becomes a place that makes things, then this additional purpose fits in well with recent requests for assistance from the community. I might add that the ‘making things’ is also the reason that some of you have joined the shed. What then of future resourcing for what is an essential purchase to make the shed a ‘best practice’ place to work in. You may remember that the ACT Government indicated that they would be setting aside funds for sheds. The Government has decided that they can not fulfil that commitment in the current economic climate.
If the Shed puts in submissions for grants to fund the acquisitions, then we are looking at a period of 8 months, subject to being successful, before the funds are available. I am advised that this then means that certain activities should be suspended for that period.
A second option, and one that is proving difficult to find a volunteer to coordinate, is the Bunning’s BBQ option. Each BBQ could potentially raise $500 at a conservative estimate. Depending on the frequency of BBQs that we run, this option would be a second best choice for future funding.
The final option is a direct approach to you the members or interest group watchers to consider a personal donation of $100. If 70 people decided that they were prepared to do this the job can be done. Even though this letter has only been sent today one person has already put their money on the table.
I realise that this current state is in part an appeal for money. Personally I have seen substantial sums donated to this shed over time, and all to the amazing benefit of the shed, and all without attribution to those donors personally. It has been something that has made my shed journey so rewarding. I have been reluctant to ask for your generosity because there has to be a limit to appeals. In addition, many of you have given greatly of your time which is another feature of the shed, and an equally important part of the shed’s progress.
If you are able to assist the shed financially, and if you believe that the secondary purpose must be given a chance, you can make a donation to
Belconnen Community Men’s Shed
32 Dallachy Street, Page ACT 2614
BSB 641 800 Account No. 200701
and in the description box please write Shed Advancement.
AMSA has opened their grants process with a limited window of opportunity. IMB are encouraging us to submit a further application when their grants become available. We will make submissions.
We need to make a decision and once that is done we need to move ahead. The issues discussed in this correspondence are not new, and in my view the time has now come to act. Any advice that you may have would be greatly appreciated. We can do things now, or delay them for some time. There are realities associated with any decision that we make. Thanks as always for listening.