By Simon Brodie
The Orkney Men’s Shed (OMS) is still waiting for OIC finalisation of paperwork to be able to meet in the old ‘Herring Factory’ in Stromness. However, while we’re not currently allowed to meet there as a Shed, we do have permission to start setting things up in preparation.
To that end, a few of us have been down there on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a few hours to clear up the old building, unpack the many pallets of equipment we moved from Finstown, assemble storage cabinets (thank you to those who gave us their old kitchen units for this) and put stuff away, find initial siting locations for our machine tools, update our paperwork in terms of Health and Safety and Risk Assessment, and generally get the building as set up and ready to go as far as possible, for when we’re allowed to eventually open the doors to our members.
The new facility has significantly more space than the Finstown site as you can see in the photos, which show the main rooms that the OMS will be using in the building. Despite the fact that the Finstown site was far more central, the Stromness facility gives us room to expand and allows us to undertake a lot more concurrent activity than the Finstown site did. We’re also going to be significantly more disabled-friendly at the new location, which is something that is critically important to us as a Shed, moving forwards.
The downstairs workshop is huge, easily able to fit in many members working on a number of simultaneous OMS projects, or personal projects. As you can see from the workshop photos, we are slowly moving the machine tools into place and assembling the storage area cabinets. Once that’s done we’ll be able to store all the hand tools, power tools, and consumables out of the way, in order to clear up the main area up so that it ready for use. A clean and organised workshop area means that members can quickly start using the facilities for their own projects, or for helping to work on the various community projects that we have lined up to assist local charities and other deserving local organisations, as soon as we are open.
For those members (and potential members) that might be interested in woodworking, but who may not have any (or any recent) experience in working with hand tools, power tools, and/or machine tools, there’s a lot of experience and knowledge within the OMS available to support you and explain how to use the tools safely and effectively so you can get started with whatever projects you want.
In addition to the large woodworking area, there is an aspiration to also create a metalworking area at some point in the future. However, first off we need to get OIC’s final approval on the building, then we can our members back in to the Shed, and work on getting the woodworking element of the workshop up and running. Once we have the woodworking area operating to a point where we feel ready to expand our activities, we can revisit the possibility of a metalworking area, and see what options exist for achieving it safely.
For those not interested in the workshop side of things, we are in the middle of setting up a large computer and craft room. As well as having computers available for those members that might not have access at home, we can also undertake computer familiarisation for members that might be interested. We’re also hoping that we can do some design work on the computers that can then be printed out on a 3D printer that we’re considering buying. However that might need us to get better computers, as the ones we have are 13 years old and are struggling with even the most basic of desktop tasks.
Alongside the computers, the craft room will also have space for various activities such as modelling, Japanese Kumiko, watch and camera maintenance, pyrography, leatherworking, etc. Basically any craft activity that you can do at a table, we can do in the craft room. Also, as we mentioned earlier, the room is set up so that the computers and some of the benches will be fully wheelchair accessible so members should be able to fully access whatever activities they would like to.
We also have a room for the repair and test of electrical equipment such as sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers etc. This means that we can help people in the community to keep their electrical equipment running for longer, rather than them having to replace it. So the result is that less items end up going into landfill, more money is being saved (after all the spare part will almost always cost you less than a new item), and by repairing things locally it means we don’t add environmental impacts of the transportation of new items.
And for those that aren’t interested in any of that, we have a large, and comfortable, social area. You can sit there, grab a brew and some cake (it’s a Men’s Shed, there’s always cake and biscuits) and just socialise with the other members. There’s books and games available in the social area too for those that are interested, but the social side of a Men’s Shed is just as, if not more, important that the workshop / craft activities. So there’s something for every member at the Shed, irrespective of their skills, abilities, or interests.
As you can see, there is always stuff to do at the Shed, and always people out there in the community needing our help and assistance. So as long as you’re male (or identify as one) and 18+, there’s a place in the OMS for you, and a need for you to come and take part in our activities and help us out. We’re not open yet, but we won’t turn away any help to get us set up; many hands make light work.
Details of where and when you can help us set up, and/or information about when we’re open so that you can come and take part, can be found on the Orkney Men’s Shed Facebook page, or from our Chair, Morgan Harcus, on 01856 751362 or Secretary, Andy Swain, on 01856 850218