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.
We have made encouraging progress renovating the entire building with the help of both professional and voluntary labour. We have a team of skilled and less skilled volunteers who are undertaking the bulk of the practical work. However, we do of course contract work beyond our scope, such as replacing the roof and rewiring the building, to qualified professionals. Read more about progress with funding 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 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 Shed would be staffed by suitably qualified volunteers. The corona virus outbreak meant that we had to temporarily suspend work during the spring of 2020.
During the summer of 2020 after receiving a donation of Personal Protective Equipment we were able to restart work and reconnect with those who have struggled with social isolation whilst ensuring we keep to the required protocols. Unfortunately the last wave of virus has meant once again we have had to suspend work for a period.
However work has restarted and the renovation is almost completed. We are beginning to equip the workshop. The operation of the workshop will depend on the restrictions in place at the time. We will fully comply with the regulations but due to the size of the workshop it may be possible to safely open 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. 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 to all who ask.
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 £58,800 towards an estimated total cost of £50,000 for the building refurbishment. An estimated saving of over £40,000 has been made through the services of volunteers and the generous support of local companies who have undertaken work free of charge.
The cost of fully equipping the workshop is estimated at a further £12,500.