Communities Worker Ryan Huws explains how Coronavirus hasn’t stopped Plymouths’s Janner Men’s Shed from helping men stay in touch during the pandemic.
Supported by Plymouth Community Homes (PCH), Plymouth’s largest housing association, the Janner Men’s Shed started in October 2017 and since then we’ve gone from strength to strength. We started off at Plymouth’s City Farm. It was a lovely location but members found the terrain a bit rough so after about a year we moved to a large community centre.
We now have 31 signed-up members and around 16 to 18 will turn up to one of our fortnightly sessions. We’re a friendly crowd, new people get a nice welcome and we’ve always got on really well with each other. We mainly work on wooden items but members are free to follow their own interests.
We’re lucky to have the Plymouth Woodturners attend who have shown us how to use lathes. Members have helped out with their time and skills with many a community project, and have made substantial improvements to the community hall. This means that more community groups now use the venue.
Although primarily funded by PCH and its contractors, we generate our own income by selling our wooden creations at local car boot sales and craft fairs. We’ve also been lucky to get the odd grant.
Like everyone else, coping with Covid-19 has been difficult. To keep in touch we set up a weekly Facebook chat group and did the odd quiz, but it’s not the same, and not all members use or like social media. Members much prefer doing things together rather than talking online.
Our next challenge is going to be about finding a new venue. The community hall is great but we share it with others which means having to shift heavy equipment and wood at the beginning and end of each session. We need a place that we can call our own and that can be open more often.