What happens in a Community Shed?

What happens in a Community Shed?

Mission partner Garry Ion supports and connects with people on the margins through practical work in Community Shed groups

Photo: Creativity in and outside the shed as members work on projects together

“What’s said in the shed remains in the shed!” is a phrase understood and observed as we build community together, says Garry Ion. But one member of Carlisle’s Community Shed allowed Garry to share their story so far…

by a Community Shed member

“Before I came to the Community Shed I felt lost and confused, so much so I didn’t feel I belonged any more in society.

“I learned about the Community Shed through my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN). I did take some persuading to visit the shed with my CPN, as I hadn’t really mixed since before the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Nerves and memories

“The first thing that hit me when I visited the shed was the smell of pine wood; it reminded me of my school days. Woodwork class was one of the only classes I enjoyed.

A Community Shed member puts the final touches to a bird table
Another shed member builds a bird table
Garry advises a shed member at a woodworking machine
Garry (left) offers expert advice to shed members

“As I was shown around the shed, I noticed big woodworking machines, which made me worried I hadn’t the skills, confidence or experience to join in. But talking with Garry and Chris I realised there was no pressure or expectations. So at first I just listened and watched as the group interacted.

“I noticed there was a big age range in the groups. My group had about five men and one or two ladies in it.

“The hardest moment for me was when I came back the next week by myself, without my CPN.

“They remembered my name…”

“On that day I came early, standing a distance from the shed, watching some of the others I met the week before go in.

“One of the group noticed me and called me over. Entering through the door together it felt familiar. I think it was the smell of the wood, having a cup of tea and meeting the group again.

“They remembered my name, even if I couldn’t remember theirs!

Confidence to create

“It took a few more weeks before I decided to pick up a woodworking tool, motivated by the idea of feeding and watching birds outside my kitchen window. Although I don’t have a garden, there was space for a bird table. So that’s what I made.

“One of the other lads helped me on the shed computer to look for bird table designs. Once I had the picture and plan, and some more help choosing wood recycled from an old pine bed, I set to work making my bird table, with some help from Garry.

“It took a few weeks to put the bird table together as I only attend one morning a week.

“It is something I really look forward to, and wish I could come more often.

“I’m reminded of my time in the shed each time I look outside my kitchen window and see the birds on my bird table. And for my second project I am making a bird box!”

Garry reflects…

As we try to develop and maintain a safe space, it is nice to see and nurture healthy friendships.

For those who find it more of a struggle, it is still encouraging to see tolerance between members so that everyone feels safe, valued and welcome.

While having a cuppa, it is nice to share spontaneously about our troubles, joys, experiences, and faith. Often members relate to another’s situations and offer advice and empathy.

On a Friday morning we start the day with Bible study and intercessory prayers, reflecting on the week’s highs and lows. It is a privilege to lead new friends in a time of open prayer.

Our hope is that through this friendship and fellowship we may share God’s love, pointing to the One who can offer a peace which passes all understanding.

Garry and shed members stand behind a garden bench with cut-out lettering saying "TOMMY"

Sometimes groups come together to make a combined project. This recently led to us making a memorial bench for “Tommy” a much-missed friend in the shed. Tommy was a real character who passed away a few weeks before my mother.

Also with help from members, I made my mother’s cremation urn at the same time out of a recycled oak floorboard.

Making the urn and memorial bench has been personally therapeutic and once again I feel blessed to have the support of these friends in the shed. While making these special projects, it was also an important time to talk about Good News in Jesus.

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