Ramshed – A Place of Innovation

Support Cambridgeshire partner Hunts Forum recently had the good fortune to visit and meet the inspirational members of Ramshed in Bury.

Ramshed is celebrating its second anniversary on the 17th April 2019.

Ramshed is a little different from many of the ‘Sheds’ in the Men Sheds movement because they are not a Men only Shed. From its inception Ramshed has been a shed for both men and women.

John, one of the founding members, explained to Hunts Forum how the Men Shed national organisation (Men’s  Shed Association UK) had been a great help and support in getting Ramshed established and had made the process relatively easy. The hardest part was the hiatus between setting up Ramshed and finding a space to meet. Fortunately, members had good local contacts and it was through these that the space they now use was found.

In the two years since forming they have been very active in the local community re-purposing two old phone boxes, refurbishing three village noticeboards, making an Oak Memorial bench, refurbishing parts of a sensory garden, and undertaking many personal projects in the meantime.

An amazing project that they undertook last year was creating the Ramsey Ram that now sits on the traffic island near to Tesco in Ramsey. Apparently, the Ram now has its own Facebook page.

On the day Hunts Forum arrived and stepped into the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, people were busy transforming old donated tools into lamps. The room was full of old pieces of wood, electrical wiring, tools and electrical equipment (lathes, drills and saws). Members happily help and teach each other to use the different pieces of equipment all of which had been donated.  It was simply your typical workshop.

Seeing an old hand-drill being transformed into a vibrant, shiny new and novel lamp seemed almost a too perfect metaphor for Ramshed.

A little later John displayed some more of the old tools that are donated to them. Gesturing at the mix of tools, John smiled and said this is a museum, we are not.

The men and women of Ramshed are eager to use the latest equipment, with no room for nostalgia for tools they were happy to see the back of in their working lives. These are people eager for the latest technology and with big plans if they can get their hands on some.  There was a lot of talk about lasers during our visit. Their enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology stood in stark contrast to the usual old trope of the older generation being technophobes.  Perhaps those who concentrate on helping people in their third age embrace technology should stop for a moment and consider if they are approaching the issue from the correct perspective.

In the small tea area, the tables are strewn with Catalogues (Screwfix, Tool Station, QVS, Electric Fix and others). It’s a paper repository of ambition and desire.

For many of us John explained this gets us up in the morning. It’s not just about having something to do, it’s talking with people- more than that, it’s the banter, the friendly mockery (the original phrase has been edited) that makes this so worthwhile. We do it for us and to be able to give something back to the community.

Sheds such as Ramshed demonstrate a very positive way of reducing unwanted social isolation in retirement. The members of Ramshed each have their own reason for being there and not all feel or have ever felt isolated, but to all the members the shed is a very important part of their lives. John had a great way of putting it: Being isolated doesn’t mean you don’t know how to make friends, it just means that something  has happened in our lives that has caused us to be isolated for a while: Places like Ramshed simply help bridge the social gap.

Hunts Forum would like to thank John, Chris and Richard for making us so welcome, showing us around and taking the time to tell us all about RamShed.

If you would like to know more and/or can help the inspiring people at Ramshed please contact them at ramshed.pe26@gmail.com

For more information about setting up a Men Shed visit  https://menssheds.org.uk/

For information about possible funding from Cambridge County Council’s Innovate and Cultivate Fund go to https://www.cambscf.org.uk/icf.html

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