Below, we find out just what makes Bootle Tool Shed in Merseyside so important...
What are the charity’s background and objects?
Registered as a charity in December 2016, Bootle Tool Shed (Bootle Tool Shed) has developed at pace.
Formally, the charity’s stated objects are to promote social inclusion and intergration by provision of premises to enable people to meet and share creative, physical, social and recreational activities and to learn and pass on skills and knowledge.
Bootle Tool Shed was set up to meet the needs of the ever growing group of men aged 50+ who live/work/visit in the Bootle area. Although their target group is older men, they welcome any age or gender to get involved. There have been a number of studies done in recent years on the effects of social isolation on this group in particular, and these studies show the need for social groups to be set up around a common interest and that’s what Bootle Tool Shed aims to do. Men generally find it more difficult to re-engage with those around them when they retire/are made redundant or if a marriage/relationship breaks down, or if they even become widowed. At Bootle Tool Shed, they want to try to encourage a mix of generations too, as studies have shown that the skill sharing of these mixed age groups is a great benefit to all.
Bootle Tool Shed is an offspring of a Men’s Sheds - similar to garden sheds, a place to pursue practical interests at leisure, to practice skills and enjoy making and mending. The difference is that garden sheds and their activities are often solitary in nature while Men’s Sheds are the opposite. They’re about social connections and friendship building, sharing skills and knowledge, and of course a lot of laughter.
Many Sheds get involved in community projects too – restoring village features, helping maintain parks and green spaces, and building things for schools, libraries and individuals in need.
Activities in Sheds vary greatly, but you can usually find woodworking, metalworking, repairing and restoring, electronics, model buildings or even car building! Whatever the activity, the essence of a Shed is not a building, but the connections and relationships between its members. They are about having fun, sharing skills and knowledge with like-minded people and gaining a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. As a by-product of all of that they reduce isolation and feelings of loneliness, they allow members to deal with mental health challenges more easily and remain independent, they rebuild communities and in many cases, they save lives.
What does the charity actually do?
As its logo states, Bootle Tool Shed is a community workshop – Make, Build, Repair, Recycle. From items built to order through the workshop production to refurbishing items to sell in the on-site shop, the charity has now also diversified and become an authorised UK stockist for the Frenchic paint range. They also sell Frenchic products from their retail unit and receive a commission.
The popularity of the Frenchic brand has resulted in bringing more customers to their door, with the hope that these visitors also purchase other items whilst visiting the shop and also get to know a little more about the charity and what it brings to the community.
The charity’s plans to expand their offer of activities and services for the local community are still on-hold until they have secured new premises with appropriate capacity.
What is the structure of the charity?
The charity has several members and is made up purely of volunteers.
There is a solid governance structure of 4 trustees but it has been agreed that additional trustees/ board members would be of benefit, to increase the scope of knowledge and to share the increasing workload as the charity grows.
What about the immediate future?
Trying to get back to normal service as the pandemic restrictions ease is the first step but then, always with an eye on the future, the trustees are looking at ways to enhance their service to the communities that it serves. Possible developments include a bicycle repair and re-distribution service and the provision of a counselling room to assist members with mental health issues.
With the increase in membership and the installation of new machinery, Bootle Tool Shed has been on the lookout for larger premises for some time. The national lockdown has not assisted in this search but it remains a priority for the trustees. There have been some viewings of alternative sites but none have progressed. They are in discussion with their current landlords to perhaps facilitate a move into a larger retail unit should one become available in the next few months. Meanwhile, they are managing the workshop capacity by making sure they operate under safe conditions, limiting attendance where required.
This charity has an outstanding reputation and standing in the communities that it serves. The community residents and the charity’s private and public sector partners all acknowledge and appreciate the positive impact that Bootle Tool Shed has.
Here at Social Responsibility, we are genuinely humbled by the awesome contributions that small charities make to our local communities. We are proud to highlight the brilliant work that Bootle Tool Shed undertakes. We celebrate their work and we genuinely wish all of the team at Bootle Tool Shed all the very best in the coming year!