One of the biggest challenges a new men’s shed faces is finding premises. The good news is that two North Yorkshire based men’ sheds projects have recently found themselves their first premises.
Ripon Men’s Shed have been offered a space owned by New Life Church and Grassington Men’s shed have been offered a space in a private sector business unit by a supportive landlord.
Key to finding premises is patience and persistence. One of the things I have noticed is that men’s sheds development groups find premises when they are ready to find premises. Not only will they have done all the requisite planning and know what they want but they will be appear confident and business like when they approach an owner.
First they need to have a solid core team to work on the challenge rather than relying solely on one person. They need to have dome the ground work, developed a budget and identified what they can afford and put in place an incorporated structure to they can sign a lease or licence to occupy or are part of an umbrella body that can do this on their behalf.
They also need to have a clear idea of what size and type of premises they need. This is best achieved by visiting other shed and seeing the space and how its used.
In my view the minimum that space that is usable is a school class room with access to a toiler tea making facilities and a lounge area. However from visiting many sheds the ideal in my view is a total space of about 2000 sq foot.
The location of the shed is also important as it needs to be close to where members live and where they can easily walk or cycle to the shed as well as being close to sufficient parking for the members who dive to park their vehicles.
One of the crucial factors is the budget for the rent, as repeat grants for rent are unlikely to be available and therefore rent will have to be paid from members subscription donations and the sale of products. If the rent is too high there is a danger that the shed will have created a monster that constantly needs feeding with resultant stress on members. A shed is meant to be a place of fun not a place of work so its vital this aspect is taken account of.
Unfortunately this usually means that there will have to be some form of compromise over size location or even the state of the building or the security of tenure.
Looking for space is often a roller coaster ride, often a space is spotted that looks idea but after trying to negotiate with the owner factors often come to light that means its a no goer. Sadly it seems that even asking the question about a building reminds the owner of its existence and the potential for other uses.
Organisations to approach include:
- Churches and other community buildings
- Local authorities
- Public Sector bodies such as the Fire service
- Private sector landlords
Sadly even if a space is a available and a local representative is positive it seems that often allowing a men’s shed group to use a space seems to fall in to the too difficult try with issues such as safeguarding and the need for a change of use of the space being raised but these can all be over come as other sheds have shown.
Some shed who are unable to find a suitable building revert to finding space to locate shed made from steel containers pre-used site offices or steel frame or wooden buildings.
However; provided a shed group has done the ground work and is patient and persistent they will be able to solve the premises problem and open their shed.
However then comes a whole bunch of new challenges such as membership, equipping the shed, health and safety and developing a positive shed culture.