Ripon Men’s Shed opened its doors this week, bringing an enormous collaborative effort to fruition.
Following a June 2019 meeting at Community House in Allhallowgate to gauge interest in the project, the charity’s trustees – Andrew Makey, Caroline Bentham, Ed Moore and Tony Johnson – made great strides, in spite of the intervening limitations brought by covid.
The Men’s Shed movement, which addresses issues of loneliness and social isolation, has a specific focus on the older male population, but women are welcome too.
There are also Sheds in Harrogate, Starbeck and Pateley Bridge, offering weekly activities ranging from joinery to the restoration of bicycles.
Mr Makey, who is responsible for publicity for Ripon Men’s Shed, told the Stray Ferret:
“Our initial focus is on woodworking, but there are opportunities to look at other areas as well, such as computers.
“The activities, which the members will decide upon themselves, provide a focus and we hope that through their attendance, they will get to know each other and enjoy the social interaction.”
For John Hayson, a retired master plumber living in Boroughbridge, the Men’s Shed will be something to look forward to.
“I’ve been in hospital recently and after I was discharged, I was bedridden for a few weeks.
“That left me feeling hopeless, particularly as I have a disabled wife that I am caring for.
“I heard about the men’s shed and thought that attending it would be a way of rebuilding my confidence and making friends, by being with like-minded people for a few hours a week, while my wife is looked after by some lovely neighbours we have.”
Catherine Limbert is currently the only female member, but is not phased by being in an all-male environment.
The NHS nurse said:
“I’m happy to speak with anybody and to learn from the expertise they have in areas that I’ve never tried before, such as using an electric drill.
“I have a couple of free days a week and this is a great way of getting out of the house, learning DIY skills and meeting new people.”
While the social aspect of the shed is good for members, it is also beneficial for the people involved in delivering the sessions.
Barry Sutton, who was formerly secretary of Selkirk Community Shed, has brought the knowledge he gained in Scotland back to his native country.
The retired forester and now community volunteer, said:
“I believe it’s important for people to stay as active as possible, use their skills and have a sense of purpose.
“Being involved in an organisation like this is a win-win situation for all involved.”
With a chair lift provided from monies secured by Ripon’s North Yorkshire county councillors Stuart Martin and Mike Chambers, the Tuesday sessions between 10am and 4pm are being made as accessible as possible.
Anybody wishing to become a member, or get involved in other ways, such as making a donation or providing practical assistance with provision of tools that can be used in woodworking sessions, can find out more on the Ripon Men’s Shed Facebook page.