In the corner of one of York’s best kept hidden green spaces, sits a small, unassuming building. Empty for quarter of a century, this former park warden’s hut is now home to almost 20 men from across York, who come together on a weekly basis to make, share, teach, learn, drink lots of tea, and have some great banter.
Welcome to York Men’s Shed in Hull Road Park…
Despite the crisp autumn conditions, there was an incredibly warm welcome from the gents, as they traded morning welcomes, put the kettle on, and started getting tools ready for the morning’s work.
Men’s Sheds are growing in popularity across the country, as a solution to the isolation and loss of purpose many men feel post-retirement. The skills and experience on offer here is absolutely incredible. I spent most of my time with Ted, a very mischievous 87 year old from Oxford, who moved to York with his late wife to be close to his family. Ted told me how he’d started working with wood aged 14, become self-employed by 21, and built his own house on a plot of land by the age of 24! What really resonated with me was his story of taking young lads under his wing who were getting into trouble and guiding them away from a life of crime through employment, skills and training. Ted showed me a small photo album he keeps close by, with pictures of his family, his late wife Annie, their beautiful garden in Oxfordshire, and some of his handiwork throughout his career.
Whilst there is structure and hierarchy (there’s a committee, for example), I very much got the impression that everybody there feels a sense of ownership, camaraderie and purpose. I asked if they ever socialised away from the Men’s Shed. They said they’d tried it, but it didn’t really work. This little space was what bound these guys together, and it works perfectly for them.
But back to business. I was visiting to see what support Social Vision might be able to offer them, and what their direction of travel is. They have ambitions to become maker-sellers, hopefully displaying and selling their products in the cafe in the park. They have all the tools and equipment they require, thanks to £4,000 of capital funding and lots of very generous donations! As is customary with this generation, all of their tools and equipment are immaculately looked after and maintained – so they have a good bank of solid tools that will last a lifetime.
So what they really need is some more members, possibly a more diverse membership (most members are over the age of 70, with a couple of exceptions), and some awareness raising of who they are, and how to get involved.
If you’d like to find out more about the group, become a member, or contribute in any other way, you can visit their website at www.yorkmensshed.co.uk. They are a genuinely lovely group of individuals, and it’s a pleasure being in their company.
*please note, Social Vision were there by invitation. An appointment should be made via the contact details on the website.