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
“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.
“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.
“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!”
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.
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.