Founded last September with just five members and the full support of CCI’s Niall McShannon, it has gone from strength to strength.
Starting with just one container provided by CCI, the group now has three and on Monday the electrician moved in to fully power them up.
The group now has 34 members and a number of activities each week, including a writers’ group which includes published author Brian Laidlaw and a walking group.
In February, Alan Ross became treasurer and it proved a fruitful appointment as he was able to secure £21,000 in funding – from VasLan, the National Lottery Community Fund and South Lanarkshire Council.
The funding helped to pay for a third project shed, to convert the donated second shed into a base for woodworking and to pay for an electrician to carry out work on all three – which is now underway.
Insulation has also been installed in the woodwork shed and, once the equipment is in place, members will turn their attention to the original container donated by CCI – which will be converted into a social meeting space.
Alan Ross is now the chairman of the group and his partner Liz McIntosh is the secretary, keeping members posted on Facebook about all their activities and events.
They’ve come a long way in a short space of time but this Men’s Shed has ambitions to do so much more.
Liz explained: “Our aim is to provide a happy and safe environment and to promote the health and well-being of all the members.
“Thanks to Niall at CCI, who is very supportive of the group, we’ve been able to expand to three sheds now – one for recreation, one for woodwork and another for projects.
“Members have attended a local pyrography (woodburning) course which will enable them to make signs for local community groups and we’ve bought a laser printer which should also help with future projects.
“We’ve already provided some signage for Castlebank Park in Lanark and we’ve got several more to do. The development trust has also asked us if we’d be interested in repairing vandalism at the Fairy Dell – another project we’re more than happy to take on.
“We’ve also purchased a computer which will be set up once the recreation shed is completed, with the aim of running courses for older members to brush up on their technical skills.”
Liz’s enthusiasm for the group is equalled by Alan who is keen to see more members sign up.
For that reason, Liz regularly updates the shed’s Facebook page for promotional purposes and has also launched a WhatsApp group to keep members posted.
Initially, the group only met twice a week but it has grown considerably since. As well as opening from 10.30am to 2.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the guitar group meets for a jamming session on a Wednesday from 10.30am to 2.30pm; the writers’ group meets on a Friday from noon to 2pm and the walkers’ group holds regular events on a Monday too.
Liz said: “We have the scope to open seven days a week, if required, depending on demand from members and if other interest groups are formed.
“Having the three sheds gives us lots of options for the future but we won’t be able to do that until all the work on the sheds is completed and that’s an on-going project at the moment.”
Members certainly do not lack ambition and there are already plans being formed for the future.
“Other sheds have launched very successful tool libraries,” said Liz, “and it’s our hope to do likewise.
“We’d be looking for people to donate tools which can then be loaned out to others in the community for a day or a week – to save them purchasing items they only need for a short time.
“The library has been a big success for other sheds and we think it would work well here in Lanark too.”
A women’s shed has also been opened on the CCI site; however, women are welcome to join the Men’s Shed groups should they wish to do so.
Liz said: “There’s no age restrictions or gender barriers – we’re open to everyone. In the main, it’s mostly retired people or those who are not currently working but we have an open door policy.
“The main focus just now is getting the work completed on all three sheds.
“Our aim in future is to work on projects which support the local community so the more hands, the better!”
Of course, the ethos of the Men’s Shed Movement – which was initially founded in Australia – is also very much to the fore.
Liz added: “The main ethos of the shed is to promote the health and well-being of its members and to reduce social isolation. Everything we do ti es perfectly into that – and there’s scope for other groups too.”