Thank you ShedFest 2020!

Lockdown provided a real challenge to our preparations for ShedFest this year and we had to ask: 

Could we host it? What would it look like? What would work? What do people want to know and how do we keep it interesting for everyone?
Thanks to the support of the Trustees, Staff, Ambassadors, Shedders and many of our partners we were able to provide a balanced programme, hopefully with something for everyone. In actual fact our audience went much further than we originally anticipated including New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Germany and the US including the British Isles. We’ve had several contacts since with people wanting to engage more and share our work.

ShedFest 2020 built on a lot of learning from lockdown and through Guernsey Shed we discovered a fantastic platform with StreamYard that we complimented with Zoom to allow for group discussion on specific themes with a social ShedFest space each day. The StreamYard platform clearly allowed fo us to engage the widest possible audiences, allow for discussion and engagement without the hassle of registration or having to be a member of particular platforms. The sessions are also available on the UK Men’s Sheds Association Youtube channels for those who missed the sessions.

Without doubt, unlocking Sheds was a main topic and we were fortunate enough to be joined by David Helmers and Barry Sheridan from Australian and Irish Shed Associations together with panelists in England, Wales and Scotland. Developing on from this people explored how Sheds will re-engage with their communities and revitalise their Sheds.  

We kicked off with Men’s Sheds CYMRU talking about the work they undertake throughout Wales and some fantastic projects including one using the ukulele to engage people; there were truly some incredible designs from the traditional to wings and Star Wars.

The beauty of delivering online, is that we have been able to assess which sessions created the most engagement and it may not surprise you that there were around income generation. These sessions addressed what you can do as Sheds to develop sustainable income streams whether through ‘easyfundraising’ or delivering DIY Courses— it was also great to see Shedders present about how they are generating income. The feedback on these and all the sessions has been really positive and more importantly seen as being helpful, thank you.  

The Social ShedFest room provided an opportunity for people to talk, these were led by the Chairman of UK Men’s Sheds Association, Nathan Sarea and John Rushforth with Brian Cooke. Those attending have feedback positively about being able to connect.

There was a clear remit in ShedFest to talk craft. Rolf Buwert from Dalbeattie Men’s Shed and Rob Stoakley shared their techniques for looking after machinery and tools. They provided new insights in to using materials. Lunch time videos also proved popular, particularly with a series of videos from Axminster that refreshed memories and went far beyond the instruction manuals. 

Mike Jenn hosted the three craft specific evening sessions. We saw some fantastic pieces of work. Great discussions around metalwork, sculpture, carving and musical instruments. A special thanks to all those Shedders who spoke with passion and openly shared how they create.  
Kate Gordon led a session around Shed Leadership which looked at all things leadership with Shedders from across the UK. This was both insightful and highlighted the real need for additional support for people.
Two keynote presenters who really shone were our patron, Chris Fisher RPT and Peter Sefton. They provided incredible insight and were inspirational. They are fantastic ambassadors for the crafts and I highly recommended those who missed out watch them.  There were so many things to take away from all the presentations.

ShedFest provided an opportunity to deliver sessions to current and future partners with local and national government.  This enabled us to celebrate Sheds, their impact and hopefully engage more people in to the development of Sheds.  A big thank you to North Walsham Men’s Shed who recruited Duncan Baker MP to join us and talk about how Sheds can connect with politicians to develop greater influence locally— this is so important when it comes to seeking property and exposure, it also has a great impact on supporting the growth of the Shed movement nationally.
The people behind the technology were principally Marcel from Guernsey Men’s Shed, Leo and John from UK Men’s Shed Association. Leo was also responsible for the look and feel of the event with the stunning graphics with the Woo Woo providing intro music!

A massive thank you to everyone involved in the delivery of ShedFest 2020 this year and particularly the Shedders who tuned in and took part.

– Charlie Bethel.