The Horsforth Shed
In Spring 2019 St James Parish Church Council took the decision to repurpose the redundant Scout Hut to serve the local area as a community workshop – the ‘Horsforth Shed’. Years of disuse and decay meant that considerable renovation was needed to make the building serviceable. For almost three years volunteers have given their time to help renovate the old scout hut.
On Sunday 25th July 2021 we officially opened the Horsforth Shed. Due to delays caused by the COVID pandemic there was still some remaining work to be done but this was completed before the end of November. It now has a new life serving the local community by beginning to engage with wide range of groups through workshop activities. To facilitate this, we have appointed Richard Hamlin as part-time Shed Manager who will co-ordinate a team of volunteers
Renovating the entire building would not have been possible without the help of both professional and voluntary labour. A team of skilled and less skilled volunteers undertook the bulk of the practical work. However, we did of course contract work beyond our scope, such as replacing the roof and rewiring the building, to qualified professionals. Read more about this process on the Shed progress page.
We have charitable status with trustees to oversee the operation of the Shed and a Treasurer to manage our own accounts. In compliance with charity law our accounts have been externally examined and reported to the Charity Commission. Our report for last year can be seen at https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/sector-data/top-10-charities/-/charity-details/5139150
The initial hope was to complete enough of the renovation to start equipping and operating the workshop by late Spring 2020. The corona virus outbreak meant we have had to suspend work for a period which has delayed the opening. The operation of the workshop will depend if there are any restrictions in place at the time and we will fully comply with the regulations. However at the time of writing we can safely open. The workshop space is large and we operate with restricted numbers.
What are Community Workshops?
They are community spaces for people to connect, converse and create. The activities are often similar to those of garden sheds, but for groups of people to enjoy together. Typically, it's a bit of woodwork or metalwork using the appropriate tools in a safe environment.
They are about having fun, sharing skills and knowledge with like-minded people and gaining a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. They can help reduce isolation and feelings of loneliness, they allow people to deal with mental health challenges more easily and remain independent, they rebuild communities and, in some cases,, they can save people’s lives.
The vision of the Community Workshop
We seek to serve the needs of the community by reducing social isolation and supporting vulnerable people. Initially, we intend to engage with those already known to us locally. We also hope to provide support for those known to us through Lighthouse Community and St George’s Crypt, individuals who are on the chaotic margins of society. As the project becomes established we intend to offer inclusive activities including practical skills training.
The experience of one of our former volunteers shows that the Shed is already giving positive support to individuals as we work together.
"It always amazed me how many bacon sandwiches and cups of tea were served at the old Scout Hut whilst it was being renovated into a Community Workshop! I was involved from the very start working as part of a team of volunteers for one day a week and over the months real progress has been made. The eight months I worked on the project really helped me grow in confidence and learn some new skills. Since leaving University I had been job hunting without any success and feeling pretty low. Going along and working with others has been really encouraging. In September I started an internship so I can no longer work there but it’s great to hear that the team hope to get it ready to open in early spring next year."
Through a mixture of grants and individual donations we have raised £72,000 to cover the costs of the renovation, purchase equipment and enable us to employ a part time Shed Manager. Donated material and equipment have saved a further £7,000 and the generous support of local companies who have undertaken work free of charge saved another £7,500. See the Finance and the Donors page for more details of the companies, schools and grant making organisations who have supported us.
The final cost of fully equipping the workshop needs to recognise the contribution of volunteers who provided their labour free of charge. A modest estimation of the saving is over £45,000 and our thanks go to all those who have helped in this way.