This is where it all began back in 2014. The SHED project was created by Chris Lee over a three year period. Chris was employed by Community Action Dacorum (CAD) and during his time with the charity he developed a keen interest in Men’s Sheds and Repair Cafes. As one of his projects at CAD came to an end, he sought support to develop a SHED in the Dacorum area and tried to find a site where a Shed could be located. He found a willing partner in Sunnyside Rural Trust, a charity based at the Hemel Hempstead Food Garden site by the B&Q superstore.
CAD, in partnership with Sunnyside, West Herts College and the Volunteer Centre, obtained a year's funding from the Government's Innovation in Waste Prevention Fund administered by WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme). Initially the SHED was created in a small corner of one of their hangers but eventually Chris was successful, through Sunnyside, in obtaining a grant from the Rowlandson Foundation to construct a small workshop on their premises and that is where the SHED is today. Locality grants from two Herts councillors also secured a shipping container for extra storage space.
The early activity was making products from old wooden pallets and repairing machines and equipment which would otherwise go to landfill. To a large extent that remains the business today although there is now more demand for made-to-order products to fit individual customer needs. The Sunnyside workshop is well equipped but not so well as is the new hub at St Lukes, and it is much smaller. We have created an excellent working relationship with Sunnyside and assist them with various tasks around the site that need our skills.
ST LUKES SHED
The origin of our newest SHED at St Lukes School in Redbourn is perhaps a little strange because if it weren’t for the BBC Countyfile programme, we would not be here! The Head of School was watching the programme back in the autumn and watched an article in which they featured SHEDS. A subsequent google search led her to our Repair Shed website and she contacted us to ask whether we would be prepared to make use of the CDT Workshop which had not been used for many years. Our first viewing was enough to say “YES”! The workshop was in a bit of a state
but, wow (!!), lathes, work benches, tools, a forge and above all s p a c e for us to grow…. everything a self-respecting SHEDDER could dream about!! And above all, there was a brilliant extraction system to get rid of the waste. This was a real opportunity to partner with a school with inspirational leadership and a genuine desire to use our skills in the development of their long term aims for the school. We drew up a Partnership Agreement between Community Action Dacorum and the school; this extract from that agreement sets out the aims of the partnership:
"The aim of the Partnership is to further community links at St Luke’s Foundation School by enabling Community Action Dacorum to make use the school’s CDT rooms to undertake their own projects. Community Action Dacorum will, in return, undertake small repair works for the school and attend relevant school events, thereby assisting with the St Luke’s Enterprise project, aimed at helping pupils to develop skills for their future working lives."
We took occupation of the Workshop in early 2018. All our volunteers have had to be DBS checked due to the fact we are working in close proximity to vulnerable children. We proudly wear our red SHED fleeces when we are on site so we are easily identifiable to the staff and children alike. We see great opportunities to expand our skills using the equipment we have inherited, which includes a fleet of sewing machines kindly donated by the school. We have already made ourselves useful by mending a broken fire door and repairing a broken settee and we have repainted a classroom ready for a new class of children. There’s a lot to do but the opportunities are there for us to develop and make a real difference.
Community Action Dacorum, 48 High Street, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP1 3AF
Telephone: 01442 253935
Registered Charity No: 288080 – Company Ltd by Guarantee 01745852