Men's group opens its doors... to women

People taking part in a hedgehog box making course. 

People taking part in a hedgehog box making course. - Credit: Ian McDonald

A Norfolk project set up to give men a space to carry out practical activities and to socialise has announced it is expanding... by allowing women to join.

The Shed Wymondham - which is connected to the national Men's Shed organisation - is believed to be the only branch in the east of England to have a women's group.

Based on an Australian initiative, Men's Sheds are community spaces for men to connect, chat and create and are intended to help reduce loneliness and isolation.

But trustees at the Wymondham shed, in Ayton Road, have opened up the venue to women after deciding it would meet an "equally important" need.

Members, who range from around 30 years old to over 80, take part in projects involving woodworking and metalworking, and help repair and restore items. They also have access to training courses and mentorships through the group.

Machinery training at the Shed Wymondham.

Machinery training at the Shed Wymondham. - Credit: Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald, vice chairman, said: "Men's Sheds are relatively well known and commonplace, the Shed Wymondham breaks the mould, as it is a genderless and inspirational space for people to share experiences, learn new skills and relax.

"The charity trustees always believed that the need for a place to meet, work and share ideas, was equally important to both men and women."

Members carrying out projects at the Shed workshops.

Members carrying out projects at the Shed workshops. - Credit: Ian McDonald

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He said plans to launch a women's group were delayed due to the first Covid lockdown in 2020 but that they eventually opened their doors to women firstly on a Friday mornings when restrictions allowed.

Mr McDonald added: "The interest has been astounding and so far only by word of mouth.

"The group quickly opened another women’s session on Wednesday afternoons, as well as a mixed session on Saturdays."

SHED Charity in Wymondham are helping Barbara Hendon restore her father's tram.

SHED Charity in Wymondham are helping Barbara Hendon restore her father's tram. Pictures: Britany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

The shed, which has plans to expand its facilities, also saw an increase in membership and participation during lockdown after people were inspired by the BBC TV show The Repair Shop.

A third workshop is currently being fitted and next spring will see the start of a project to convert a shipping container into a metal working and upcycling workshop for teaching welding, metal fabrication and restoration.

Members carrying out work on a large model Thomas the Tank Engine.

Members carrying out work on a large model Thomas the Tank Engine. - Credit: Ian McDonald

Some of the community projects members are carrying out include refurbishing work near Wymondham station, restoring a large model Thomas the Tank Engine in the grounds of the Station Bistro, making hedgehog hibernation boxes, and restoring a community bench.

The most recent project involves the restoration of a model of an 86-year-old double-decker Manchester tram.

SHED Charity in Wymondham are helping Barbara Hendon restore her fathers 86 year old tram model. Pat

SHED Charity in Wymondham are helping Barbara Hendon restore her fathers 86 year old tram model. Pat Callow and Ian McDonald who are restoring the tram. Pictures: Britany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

The men’s group meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings 9am to 1pm, the women’s group meets 1pm to 5pm on Wednesdays and 9am to 1pm on Fridays, and a mixed session is held on Saturdays 9am to 1pm.

The Shed charges a nominal membership fee. For more information visit theshedwymondham.org.uk or facebook.com/theshedwymondham

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