The Garnock Valley Men’s Shed reached the final of this year’s Scottish Adult Learners Awards. Kenneth Gibson MSP presented them with their award in recognition of their great work in North Ayrshire.
In October 2017 Project Kilbirnie began the process of establishing a Men’s Shed in the Garnock Valley.
Having secured a temporary occupational licence for a building in Kilbirnie Public Park, the group worked with a separate group of men who would manage the project and drive it forward, holding an information evening in the empty building to attract new volunteers. Driven by the huge response, the Shed Start-Up group was formed in February 2018. Members then attended training provided by the Scottish Men’s Shed Association, following which they commenced the process of becoming a new organisation and establishing a regular schedule of meetings.
The learning involved has been significant and the impact of this new group, both in the local community and on the members themselves considerable. Most of the group have no previous involvement in community groups. They bring a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience to the table that is proving to be a potent mix. A variety of learning experiences have taken place, including organisational skills, agreeing and applying for organisational status, holding productive meetings, fundraising, coordinating/implementing health and safety requirements as well as linking with other community groups and professional organisations.
Their hard work means that now over thirty men (and women) now use the shed on a regular basis and engaging in learning for the first time since leaving school or the workplace. The group is also inspiring others to become involved in learning. Buoyed by their success, they are now supporting the development of new shed group in neighbouring towns, offering them advice, support and encouragement both practically and theoretically. They are attracting new learners in Kilbirnie by engaging them in the log cabin project, teaching woodwork skills in its construction to create a space where outreach men’s health initiatives can take place, including a hearing aid clinic.