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Member's Stories


After 43 years at work, I waved goodbye to my friends and colleagues' and was planning a new life of sun, sea and sangria.  Then the world changed forever.  Lockdown came.


With lockdown, I felt isolated, the isolation turned to loneliness, the loneliness turned in to negative self-talk, and all of the plans I had made were crumbling away.

Then I discovered  Redditch Community Shed.  From day one it's been a journey of rediscovery of all my creative skills by crafting unique items for display and sale.

The community and the social interaction of all members of the Shed have given me back my self-worth and a new person in life.


Reaching ninety years there didn't seem a lot left to do.  However, entering Redditch Community Shed I found I was wrong and there is a lot more to do and many more skills to learn, while meeting good friends along the way.  May the nations Sheds prosper!


An amusing side issue: my working career was in engineering - I now know that was fifty years of wasted youth.  I should have plumped for carpentry!



When I left work through stress and anxiety I went to counselling. In the sessions the counsellor

helped me to see that I needed a space where I could learn a new skill to improve my mental health.  I had always wanted to learn woodturning and other woodwork skills. Redditch Community Shed was mentioned as a place where I would benefit in both skills and mental health.

I went there on a day when they were all sat around having a Christmas “do”. I was met with c20

surprised faces as a female wanting to join them was unusual.  Roly and a couple of other members told me what the Shed was about and invited me to come back after Christmas.

From the time that I entered the Shed the next week, I was made totally welcome, and everyone

helped me. Cups of tea, shared anecdotes and laughter all the time made the Shed a happy place to be. I was shown how to use tools and machines and was able to produce acceptable items!! Nothing was too much trouble.


Since joining the Shed my mental health has greatly improved. The wood turning is coming along

slowly but the friendships that I have made are invaluable. 


There are other crafts that can be done too that use a variety of skills and imagination. Keeping your hands busy energises the mind – as they say, “crafting is good for the soul”.

More importantly I now have a group of friends that support and look after each other. Everyone

helps one another in many ways.

Having worked for the NHS for 35 years I had
seen many retire and underestimate the impact that retirement has on mental and physical health.  I was determined to stay busy and fill up my day with the things that I enjoyed doing and more importantly “stretched” me. 
The one thing that I had always had an interest in was woodworking and making things so I set about clearing my garage and made some room for a workbench and dug out the tools.  I made a few things but realised when working on my own the one thing I missed was being with other people and banter that comes with it.  I had previously suffered from a period of depression which I had recovered from and was determined to do everything I could not to go down that same route, so looked for options.

I had heard about the Shed movement and the benefits that belonging to a shed can bring and decided to contact Redditch Community Shed.  The founder Roly Duke spoke to me on the phone and I decided to go along for a chat and a cuppa, something I later know is the most important thing at any shed.  I went along expecting to be quizzed on my woodworking credentials before being accepted into the group, but it was clear from the first time I went that this isn’t what the shed is about.  The guys (and one female member) were very welcoming and showed me around the workshop and told me a little about themselves and why they were members.  Some members were very active and were busy constructing their own projects but others were building planters ready for a local infants and junior school.  Other members were just sitting and watching but clearly enjoying the general chat and banter. 
The general atmosphere was great and I knew I wanted to be part of the group and pitched up the following week and haven’t looked back since.
I'd been self-employed for twenty-odd years and was at a bit of a loose end when I retired. Working by myself on short contracts meant I made no work friends and spending so much time away from home meant I'd lost touch with other friends and neighbours. All in all my social life was fairly empty. In 2016 I heard that a Men's Shed had been set up in Redditch so I decided to give it a try.

The Shed was busy making Christmas decorations when I turned up at the Old Needle Works. Half a dozen men in a small workshop unit were
making wooden reindeer. At the time, the Shed was run by Age Concern and the reindeer were wanted for sale in their shop. I was given
some sticks of wood and told to make necks. No enrolment process, no questions asked - just sort out some sections of about the right
diameter and cut them to about this length. We had a cup of tea and chatted. The morning passed very pleasantly and I decided to give it
another try next week.

Week followed week and slowly the Shed filled a gap in my life. I've made new friends and with the help (and despite the despair) of
fellow Shedders my woodworking skills have improved. At first I was a bit nervous. Redditch is an industrial town and a lot of the
Shedders were skilled craftsmen. I'm not. It wasn't a problem though - I was given advice rather than criticism when I made mistakes and
I'm getting better. They still watch me out of the corner of their eyes when I go near any powered tools though!

I was also helped with advice when I fell ill last year. There had been a notice on the wall about prostate problems for a while and
one day I realised that the symptoms seemed familiar. I'd left it too late though. Tests showed that I had advanced prostate cancer
and I had to go in for surgery. This was a scary thought but some of the Shedders who'd been through this sort of thing before supported
and reassured me and six months later I'm nearly back to normal again. As a quick warning to the rest of you; a short midnight toilet
break is part of growing old, a toilet break where you stand there waiting and waiting and waiting is not normal. Go and see a doctor.
Surgery hurts.

On a brighter note, my biggest project has tidied up my garage. No more jam jars full of odd screws, I've got it all sorted with a nest
of drawers. Short thin screws are in the top left drawer, long fat screws are in the bottom right, and everything else is in between.
Call me obsessive but I can always find the right size screw for the job. Building it took an eternity though. Twenty identical drawers
of scrap plywood; forty runners of oak from a broken sideboard, and the structure made of offcuts from a hardwood door frame. All very
satisfying and I wasn't at all upset (or surprised) when a Shedder said that I could have bought one in Wilko for £9.99!

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