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Romsey Men’s Shed is a UK charity formed to promote general wellbeing, continuing education and healthy lifestyles for retired men and others of similar interests in the Romsey area who are looking to use their time constructively and enjoyably. Local government, NHS health, and volunteer groups in the community have voiced a common concern over the absence of activities for older men and the resulting deterioration in their health and wellbeing. A lack of social interaction, especially after retirement or loss of a loved one often results in men becoming withdrawn and isolated from their community.
The Men’s Shed model has proven successful as a solution to this problem in Australia where there are over 1000 in existence and the concept is now becoming very popular in the UK with over 350 sheds. Wherever a Men’s Shed is present, there are proven benefits to the men, their families and local communities.
Our aim therefore, is to set up and operate a meeting place or collective “shed” in Romsey where older men (and others) will be able to share skills, actively pursue hobbies, work on community projects and have a place to go and relax knowing they are among friends. The benefit for the men will be improved self-esteem, a chance to learn new skills (and maybe practice old ones), combat isolation, improve social interaction and enjoy an active healthy retirement.
Who we are
Romsey Men’s Shed (RMS) was formed in October 2015 by Graham Gowman and was quickly joined by three others to form an initial committee. After a public meeting in the Romsey Crosfield Hall in March 2016, another 16 expressed an interest and now the group has around 20 members. However, based on experience in other towns in the UK of a similar size to Romsey, it is estimated that the potential membership is maybe close to 100 when surrounding rural areas are taken into account and an actual physical shed is available.
Romsey Men’s Shed is a UK CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organization) (1167471) established in June 2016 and supervised by The UK Charity Commission.
Romsey Men’s Shed is managed by a board of four members, their roles being Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer.
Day to day operations are handled by a Committee which consists of the four Trustee members plus one or two others depending upon skills and interests.
The Board of Trustees
Following are brief profiles of the four Trustees.
|Graham Gowman is the Chairman. His role is to call regular board meetings, prepare the agenda, and preside over the meetings. Graham was managing director of an engineering company in Romsey before retiring in 2011.|
|Don Snowsill is Treasurer and Secretary. As Secretary he is responsible for the minutes of trustee board meetings. Don is a qualified surveyor and worked in a variety of roles at Ordnance Survey before retiring in 2009.|
|Trevor Bond is Membership Secretary. As Membership Secretary he is responsible for keeping accurate membership records. Trevor was managing director of a carpentry business in Romsey before retiring in 2010.|
|Ron Bowater is Vice-Chairman and Webmaster. As Vice-Chairman his role is to preside over board meetings in the Chairman’s absence. After a career with IBM in product development at the Hursley Labs during which he became one of IBM’s Master Inventors, Ron retired in 2009 and has since been involved in a number of charity-related activities.|
What is a Men’s Shed ?
The Men’s Shed is a project to promote general wellbeing, continuing education and healthy lifestyles for retired men and other men who are free during the day and are looking to use their time constructively and enjoyably. Our Shed will be open a number of days each week for men to drop in. There will be benches and work stations where men can engage in activities such as woodworking and other hobbies. Men can work on their own projects, share their skills, get advice on new endeavours or participate in community undertakings. A relaxing area with comfortable chairs will be available for discussions or just reading the newspaper.
Our goal is to get men out of their houses, mixing socially, learning new skills and mentoring others. We will work actively with NHS and community health organizations to promote men’s health issues and awareness.
We aim to boost feelings of self-worth through contributing to community projects, sharing skills and interests, assisting each other and enjoying fun and friendship.
To find out more about Men’s Sheds, you may be interested in the following resources:
- The Wikipedia entry for Men’s Sheds click HERE
- An introductory 4 minute BBC video called ‘Getting inside a Men’s Shed’ click HERE
- A short film about the Gosport Men’s Shed click HERE
The Havant Men’s shed is a wonderful example of how a shed should be run. Follow this link to read two very informative articles about their shed with some nice photos (representative of what our shed will hopefully be like) Part 1 Here and Part 2 Here (both open in new browser windows/tabs)
History of The Men’s Shed Movement
The concept of the Men’s Shed movement originated in Australia in the 1990’s, where a number of issues were raised about the physical and mental health of elderly and usually retired men. it was found that men retiring from work slipped into a pattern of lack of exercise, heavy drinking and lack of self esteem. Such a void can also occur when, for example, a loved one is lost.
A conference in 1995 proposed the concept of the Men’s Shed to promote social interaction and reduce depression. The first actual Men’s Shed was setup in Tongala, Australia on July 26, 1998. Since that date, the number of Men’s Sheds has increased massively to the point where there are now over 1000 sheds in Australia.
For places in Australia which have a Men’s Shed, there have been noticeable benefits to the physical and mental health of the elderly men of the area and a reduced call on medical resources needed to remedy the effects of loneliness and isolation.
The Men’s Shed concept spread to Ireland in the early 2000’s and then to the UK where the first Shed was setup in Westhill, Scotland in 2005. At the time of writing (August 2016) there are now over 300 Sheds in the UK with new ones opening at the rate of two a week.
In our local area, there are very successful sheds in Havant, Gosport, Eastleigh and Southampton and ours in Romsey which, despite not having a real physical shed, is already making a difference to the lives of the members and to local community groups. Hopefully the lack of a physical shed is an anomaly which will corrected in the near future.
Men’s Shed in Romsey
Romsey Men’s Shed was formed by Graham Gowman in October 2015. Through contacts with friends, the group grew initially to form a Committee of four and then following an open meeting in March 2016 another 16 men joined the group.
In June 2016, Romsey Men’s Shed became a UK CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organization) (1167471) supervised by The UK Charity Commission.
The Committee initially looked for a ready-made building that could be adopted for the Men’s Shed but eventually decided that such a building was not available within walking distance of Romsey Town and therefore the only option was to build one ourselves. Luckily, the Romsey School offered us both a weekly meeting place and a site on which we could erect a shed. We are now in the process of applying for planning permission for the site after which we will embark upon a fundraising effort which hopefully should get us a real working shed by Summer 2017.
While waiting for our own physical shed to happen, around a dozen RMS members meet weekly for a couple of hours on a Thursday morning at Romsey School where the proposed shed and other wide-ranging topics are discussed over a cup of tea or coffee. We are also starting to restructure the allotment area to achieve a clear separation between the space required for the schools horticultural activities and that which will be required for the Mens Shed. Also, we will be preparing the group for the space where the shed will eventually be located.
Romsey Men’s Shed activities
In the first nine months of existence, Romsey Men’s Shed has been very active in projects to help the local community. These include:
- Made ‘wood block meccano’ for Little Starlights.
- Levelled off tree stumps in Nursery playground.
- Installed racking in container for Romsey Food Bank.
- Making of external furniture and ‘Mud Pie Kitchen’ for Little Starlights Nursery.
- Volunteer marshalls at Romsey Relay Marathon
- Designed and constructed bag filling jig for Romsey Riverwalk Restoration
To find out more about the bagging jig and the Romsey Riverwalk Restoration project click Here
- Fitting of curtain poles for person in need.
- Made wooden planters for Romsey School
- Supported Riverwalk Restoration filling bags
- Made access ramp for Little Starlights garden step.
- Refurbished wooden bench for Age Concern in Linden Rd.
- Designed and constructed fete games for County-wide use at community events
- Attended Mayors Picnic in the Memorial Park and displayed and used some of our fete games.
- Made bird box kits for and supported ‘woodwork day’ at Romsey School holiday club (children 4-10 years of age)
- Supported Romsey Riverbank Restoration installing bags in Test (two days)
Choice of Location for the Romsey Shed
After the RMS group was first formed in October 2015, the search for a real shed in or around Romsey began, looking for a place or building which satisfied the following requirements:
- Low rental (zero or ‘peppercorn’)
- At least 30m2 internal area
- Toilet and washroom facilities
- Adequate parking
- Lockable and secure
- Low fitting out cost
- Electricity and water supplies
- Within walking distance of Romsey Town Centre
A number of options offered to us were seriously considered, but all were deemed unsuitable when judged against the above requirements.
However, a fortunate encounter between Graham Gowman and the Romsey School Community Services Manager Jan Lefley, raised the possibility of a plot of land being available for our shed on the Romsey School site. Further research and discussion validated that this was a good option and the RMS committee agreed to proceed with this as Plan of Record in March 2016.
An additional advantage (among many) of the Romsey School site is that it is adjacent to the old caretaker’s house (now know as ‘Company House’) and this would provide us with a meeting place and toilet facilities free of charge until such a time that our shed is up and running.
So, rather than finding a ready-made shed in Romsey, the RMS committee have taken on the challenge of getting all the approvals to build a shed on that site, to raise the necessary funds, and then to complete the build and set it up as a working Men’s Shed.
Here is an aerial photo of the site showing the position of the proposed shed and accessible washroom
Construction of the Men’s Shed
Given that a site is available (assuming that planning permission is granted) the question arises as to the type of shed building to be erected. The RMS Committee determined that the requirements for the building are as follows:
- At least 30 m2 internal area
- Robust with a lifetime of at least 25 years
- Well insulated from both thermal and acoustic standpoints
- Minimal or zero maintenance
- Double glazed windows and doors
- High resistance to fire
- Weather resistance
- Lockable and secure
- Low profile to minimize neighbour visibility
- Blend in well with the environment (trees, bushes)
- Cost within budget for entire project set at £30k (see later)
The types of building considered were:
- Large version of a wooden garden shed
- Garden ‘cabin’ type building
- Conventional brick built structure with tiled roof
- Prefabricated building made from insulated steel panels
Although a conventional brick/tile building would be preferable on most of the above requirements, the cost would be prohibitive with an overall project cost of maybe more than £100,000. At the other end of the cost spectrum, a large wooden shed would be very inexpensive but would be very poor when judged again the same set of requirements.
The RMS Committee therefore decided that the best solution for the Romsey Shed was to go for the only option which satisfied all of the above requirements but at a reasonable cost i.e. a pre-fabricated insulated steel panel building.
Here are some photos of what a building of this type might look like (note that the door and window configuration of our shed will be somewhat different (see later)
The Romsey Men’s Shed Proposal
The Romsey School Academy (more specifically Romsey Community Services which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Romsey School) Academy have offered RMS a site next to the former Caretaker’s House on the periphery of the Romsey School site in Greatbridge, Romsey. The area to the south of the house is currently an allotment which was used for the teaching of horticulture but since that subject is no longer on the school curriculum, the allotment is now mainly unused and becoming overgrown.
The Romsey Men’s Shed Committee are proposing to erect a 4.2m by 7.2m rectangular building on part of that site (the size is about half as wide again as the passenger area of a single-decker bus). It will be a custom prefabricated building built from ‘steel insulated panels’ resulting in an extremely well-insulated building (thermal and acoustic) which will require little maintenance with minimal or zero fire risk and have a lifetime of at least 25 years. It will be the perfect place to create a Men’s Shed environment.
In order to ensure that activities within the shed are not troublesome to residential neighbours from a noise standpoint, the design of the shed is such that there are no windows or doors on all except for the side of the building facing towards the school. Windows and doors will all be double glazed to ensure the best possible thermal and acoustic insulation.
Within the shed there will be workbenches with hand and power tools where members can work on individual and group constructional projects. There will also be a social area with ‘comfy’ chairs where members can drink their favourite non-alcoholic beverage and discuss any topic of common interest. The remaining allotment area outside of the shed will also all members to practise and demonstrate their prowess in growing fruit and vegetables.
The maximum capacity of the shed is about 10-12 men at any one time so, depending upon demand, the shed would potentially be open every weekday between 10am and 5pm in order to cater for the estimated demand from Romsey and environs of 50-60 men.
In order to show consideration for residential neighbours, the shed will not be open on Sundays or Bank Holidays. Saturday morning opening hours will be 10am to 1pm when the use of power tools in the shed will not be permitted.
Parking for the shed will not be a problem as Romsey School has designated six parking spaces for sole use of Men’s Shed. Given that about half of current members walk or cycle to the shed (which will be encouraged), these parking spaces should be more than adequate to support the daily demand.
Although toilet facilities are currently available within the former Caretaker’s house for our weekly meetings, continuing to use this for an external main shed has a number of issues. One of these is that the existing toilet is not ‘accessible’ i.e. could not be used by a disabled person in a wheelchair. Therefore, as part of the proposal, RMS plans to erect a small ‘accessible toilet and washroom’ attached to the house which will be used by all Men’s Shed members including those with disabilities.
Plans and drawings of the proposed shed and accessible w/c can be viewed by clicking on the following links (which open in new browser tabs):
Progress towards a real shed
Progress towards having a real shed is going well:
- RMS submitted a planning ‘pre-application advice’ to TVBC in June 2016 to determine feasibility of the project from a planning standpoint. Result of this was extremely positive and gave us some good feedback which was used in creating the full planning application.
- RMS submitted a full planning application on 22nd July 2016 (16/01761/FULLS). Because of a small technical error in the location plan, the application was deemed to be invalid and was re-submitted with corrections applied.
- The corrected full planning application was submitted on on 5th September 2016 (16/02108/FULLS). The result of this will be received no later than 26th October 2016
- A Building Regulations application for the proposal is ready to be submitted (will be done when the planning application result is known).
- A lease from the School (25 year peppercorn rent, renewable 5 yearly) is in preparation.
- A grant of £900 has been received from ASDA and Royal Voluntary Services has been received to cover the costs of planning/BC applications and promotional material.
How much will this cost ?
As soon as the planning application, building control and lease requirements are satisfied (probably end of October 2016) and funding secured, RMS will be ready to move ahead with the build. In parallel with the above, we are obtaining quotes for the work of which we already have some. These indicate that a total budget of £30,000 will cover the cost of building the shed and washroom (unfitted shed but fully equipped washroom). Note that, as RMS is a registered charity, we are exempt from VAT for building costs.
The breakdown of costs within the £30,000 is approximately:
- £8,000 for shed and w/c groundworks
- £10,000 for shed prefabricated building
- £12,000 for w/c construction and fitting out
Note that these costs are approximate based on a single builder’s quote and the final figures may be a little higher or lower.
RMS members (several of whom have building skills) are planning to do as much of the work themselves as possible in order to cut costs and to give them a feeling that they are contributing practically to the creation of the shed. This will probably include:
- Ground clearance
- Laying of the concrete slab for the main shed
- Digging of footings for the wc
- Plumbing and fitting of the wc
- Final decoration
In addition to the £30,000 construction cost, we will need to fit out the main shed (benches, tools, kitchen area etc). Costs here may vary widely depending upon we buy new tools or are able to benefit from donations and the second-hand market.
Where will the money come from ?
RMS are currently looking at all possibilities to raise the necessary funds. After consultation with TVBC, we are hopeful that an application to the TVBC Community Asset Fund (CAF) will be successful. This will be submitted in November with approval/refusal given in January 2017. CAF is a ‘matching fund’ i.e. they will match whatever funds have been raised from other sources up to the limit of their grant. So, to reach the required £30,000 we will need to raise £15,000 from other sources. All options to achieve this are being considered including the Big Lottery Fund, Hampshire and local trusts/charities.
When could the shed be up and running ?
If planning permission is granted at the end of October 2016, we will then start a major fundraising effort which we hope will allow us to start work on the actual structure of the shed and accessible toilet in mid-2017. We are planning to do the main part of the groundwork (base for the shed, footings for the wc) well before this date so that the site is ready for the major building effort. This will probably have to be scheduled during a school holiday to avoid site congestion so that summer 2017 is a likely date for the building work on the WC although, depending upon the availability of funds, the main shed may be erected somewhat earlier.
What can RMS offer sponsors ?
RMS can offer the following to potential sponsors:
- A plaque on the inside or outside of the shed and W/C
- Web site publicity (www.romseymensshed.co.uk)
- Local press publicity
What will the shed be like once it is open ?
Following successful fund-raising and construction, the shed will become a important part of the lives of those who will benefit for at least a generation. It will be:
- A vibrant community of retired men
- Open 5 days a week (10am to 5pm)
- Equipped with workbenches, wood and metal working tools and a social seating area
- Well-run by a competent committee
- Financially self-supporting
- Offering members training in subjects such as wood-turning and carving, electronics
- Working on projects for local community groups
- providing a resource to assist other community groups in their endeavours
Who will benefit from Romsey Men’s Shed ?
- The Members themselves
There will be a clear benefit for members of the shed who will have a place that they can go to during the day to socialize and do practical things (e.g. woodworking) together or as a group. This sort of interaction has been proved time and time again to improve the mental and physical health of members.
- Families of Members
Families will also benefit in having a happier man around the house … happy because he has found something to do during the day which maybe allows him to learn new skills (e.g. woodturning), build that something he has always wanted to do, meet and socialize with other men and help the local community.
It has been said that a Men’s Shed turns a Grumpy man into a Happy one!
- The Community
The local community (i.e. Romsey Town and environs) will benefit significantly from the Men’s Shed as members will be encouraged to provide a ‘Men Force’ for local charity and community group projects.
Some quotes from our members
“I enjoy The Men’s Shed because it gives us an opportunity to meet new men with similar interests but who are from a wide variety of backgrounds” Paul, Shed Member
“I look forward to coming to the Shed as I live on my own; it’s good therapy” Mike, Shed Member
“It’s a great pastime and I look forward to meeting people at the Shed” Bill, Shed Member
“It’s been good finding an activity outside the home. I have enjoyed meeting people and getting involved with theprojects we have done.” Ted, Shed Member
“This is such a good idea, why did it take so long?” Graham, Shed Member
“I’ve met friends I didn’t know I had!” Ron, Shed Member
Romsey Men’s Shed Committee believe that the proposed Men’s Shed will be an asset to Romsey and the community. It will provide a unique place in Romsey where retired men can go during the day to socialize and work either individually or as a group on practical projects for themselves or for the benefit of local community groups. As well as providing a service to the community we believe that the presence of a shed will significantly enhance the lives of the participating men and their families and this will lead to an improvement in mental and physical wellbeing of all those involved.