Some three months ago I was at my monthly Repair Cafe in Farnham ( see other posts) when a chap called Ed, who was there to repair furniture, needed a electrical heater repaired. It belonged to a friend who is a ‘hands on’ practitioner of some sort of alternative medicine and the heater was used in her surgery to keep patients warm. It was an easy fix, I just by-passed the useless timer mechanism and it worked great. He brought it to my house, and asked me to drop it at his place. Over coffee we got in to a conversion about my life, retirement and what I did all day etc.
Well, it turns out he was recruiting for a ‘Men’s Shed’. These have been springing up all over the country, and are places where mostly retired men, can meet and chat or fix things or mess around with wood or whatever. It’s better than going down the pub, which to my mind is totally boring unless you are meeting up with others, and there is a common bond of friendship and working together, all voluntarily. Let me explain about the one I go to every Tuesday; It’s inside a furniture warehouse called ‘Furniture Helpline’ which is a charity that collects furniture from wherever it can get it, house clearances, unwanted household items, and sells them on to people who are having a hard time financially. As their website says:
We collect good quality, donated furniture from local residents and offer it, free of charge or at low prices, to people in need.
We are a food recycling hub for the local area, providing good quality, surplus food to organisations such as lunch clubs, day centres, school breakfast clubs etc.
As an environmental body, our activities reduce the number of items going to landfill and through our workshop (that’s the Men’s Shed) we are able refurbish some furniture.
They also raise money transporting refuse to various places for local councils. So they have vans available to collect the household goods and they bring that back to the Furniture Helpline building, which is incidentally an ex-military police station, and if it doesn’t need any refurbishment, goes straight out onto the showroom floor for sale at very competitive prices, i.e. very cheap. Many other charities do the same sort of thing, the British Heart Foundation is one that springs to mind. The Furniture Helpline is based in Bordon, Hampshire and has quite a good turnover of furniture and domestic appliances in good condition. If its not, that’s where the Men’s Shed comes in.
We meet every Tuesday and Friday inside the Furniture Helpline building in a small workshop which is equipped with a wide range of hand tools and machinery.
It can safely accommodate at least five people, although there are only two benches. Some of the work is carried on furniture on the floor. We have a band-saw which has many uses, and a belt sander along with electric drills and hand held sanders .
We are currently in the process of constructing new small display wheelbarrows for sale in the FH sale room and been well received; three having been sold. We also refurbish and repair a wide range of wooden furniture, usually cosmetically and sometimes replacements parts have to be manufactured. The men currently taking part in the men’s shed are all retired and over a certain age, but that is no barrier, and experience or knowledge is not required either. There are plenty of able hands willing to instruct and assist. But it’s not all work, work, work. There is a lot of banter and jokes. Tea and coffee are available. We meet between 1.00pm and 4.00pm in Hampshire House, Hampshire Rd in Bordon (the old police station). Come along if you like to tinker with ‘stuff’ and have a hankering to make a difference to the community.