June 2020, saw the new committee of Petersfield Men’s Shed, make contact with the already well-established Hayling Island Men’s Shed Association. Our objective was to gain a better understanding of how other shed associations in our region had approached securing suitable premises, from where they could delivery regular activities.
We were welcomed by Roger Davies, Chair of the Hayling Island Shed, who very kindly invited our committee down to their new coastal HQ for a fact finding visit, of course following all of the appropriate UK government guideline on social distancing.
We opted to send one member of our committee and set up a virtual video call from the Hayling Island Shed, so that other committee members could join a Q&A with Roger, gaining an insight into the journey taken by the team at Hayling Island, which took them from their concept through to a comprehensively kitted out shed facility.
It took the Hayling Shedders around two years of regular meetings, consultations, planning and fundraising to get to the stage where they had secured a site for their new premises and raised sufficient capital, through sponsorship and fundraising activity to erect and fit out a purpose made new building and workshop.
They opted for a purpose made composite metal structure which was erected by professional contractors, with the majority of the internally finishing and fit out completed through the hard work and commitment of their members.
It was not all plain sailing, with ongoing negotiations required with their new landlord (the local church) throughout the build process and the potential of unexpected spiralling costs associated with connecting the new facility to mains power. However, following a team effort, some hard work and commitment they got there, with the new facility scheduled for opening in March 2020…… but then COVID-19 happened.
Although lock-down and COVID-19 resulted in a significant delay to the scheduled launch date for the new shed facility, it actually provided an opportunity for the team at Hayling Island to work on their operating guidance for members (the rule book as they like to call it) and to finalise their policies and operating procedures, so that they are full prepared for launch as we move into the COVID-19 recovery period. Every cloud has a silver lining as they say.
It was a really useful visit and we thank Roger for his warm welcome and for taking the time to guide us ‘novice’ Shedders through the challenge of finding suitable premises and establishing a new shed. There were a number of key learning points which we took away from the visit, which we hope will help us as we move forward on our journey to Shedtopia.
- Setting up as a registered charity (CIO) is of great benefit when it comes to raising funds and sponsorship from Trusts and Charitable Foundations.
- Having regular member meetings during the planning stages, really helps to shape the vision and also develops contacts within the local community which can lead to ‘in kind’ support of various types.
- A clear project plan for your build is essential and working to an agreed project timeline under the guidance of a Project Board can help to keep things on track and avoid any unexpected pitfalls.
- Finding premises with utilities and services already in place can be a great advantage and avoid unnecessary project costs.
- Think about sound proofing, sheds can generate quite a lot of noise, so it is good to consider this as a part of your construction or refit, so that you can specify in appropriate noise reduction measures to keep neighbours on side.
- Build your supporter base, you never know what additional support could be offered from the community, including a venue, technical skills or donations.