Make and Mend

Make & Mend is a monthly update from The Repair Shed. If you’d like to receive Make & Mend in your inbox, please e-mail with ‘Subscribe Make & Mend’ in the subject box

 February 2015

Community Repair Day Flyer x1Don’t despair – repair!

At The Repair Shed, we’re kick-starting our repair and re-use programme for 2015 with our second Community Repair Day. Shed members and other volunteers will be helping people to mend their broken items at this free event at Hemel Food Garden on Saturday 28 February.

Anyone with something that needs mending – bikes, toys, clothes, tools, small items of furniture, electrical equipment including IT hardware – can bring their item along between 10.30am and 2.30pm. The broken item will be assessed and, if it can be mended immediately, the owner will learn how it’s done. Sorry – we can’t mend broken hearts or creaking joints.

 With money tight and landfill sites overflowing, the importance of changing attitudes to consumption and waste -and repairing rather than replacing – has never been greater. It’s also about sharing skills – we want people to leave knowing more about repairing items than when they arrived.

The Repair Day is free, but advance booking is required so we know what items will be arriving. To book online, go to For updates and other information about repair and re-use go to

For a short film of our first Repair Day in June, click here                     (after the advert – be patient)

IMG_5976The ‘underfoot syndrome’     

As visitors to the Hemel Food Garden will know, The Repair Shed is a stone’s throw (literally if you’ve got a strong arm) across the canal from the B&Q store in central Hemel.  Given B&Q policy on employing older people, and their particular customer base, we’re keen to make friends with the store. After explaining this to the Duty Manager, a car park conversation with a B&Q customer followed…

“I hear you’re setting up something for old fogeys like me?” 

 “Maybe – what’s your situation?”

“I’m a taxi driver, due to retire in two years and my wife doesn’t know how she’s going to cope with having me around.”

Fact: many men find their way to Sheds with ‘encouragement’ from women

IMG_6409Are you a NIPPER  (or do you know one?)

You’ve heard about NEETs – young  people who are ‘Not in Employment Education of Training’? Well, we’re looking for NIPPERS – older men who are either Not In Permanent           Paid Employment or Retired.

It takes all sorts to make a Repair Shed member, but a ‘typical NIPPER’ is likely to be a man aged 50+, with a practical mind and an interest in mending, making and learning. Our NIPPERS have low support needs but could be getting over personal difficulties – associated with work or family relationships maybe – and looking for a friendly set-up to do so.

If that’s you, or you know someone who fits the description, and you’re in Dacorum (south west Herts) e-mail Or go to ‘maps’ at to find your nearest Men’s Shed 

???????????????????????????????Our new toy

Brem shows off our new pallet dismantling tool. We were using a standard crowbar and hammer and our friends at St Albans Wood Recycling told us “you’ll never know how you ever managed without one (a pallet dismantling tool]” and they were right!  Exactly the right tool for the job – happy to recommend this product from


January 2015

Making, mending… and preventing wasteRecycle Now logo

At the end of 2014, we were excited to learn that The Repair Shed was one of only ten projects nationally to be successful in a bid for the first round of funding from the government’s Innovation in Waste Prevention Fund administered by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme).

The award enables a 12 month programme of activity that mobilises older people (mainly men) to use new and existing skills to demonstrate creative ways to keep items and materials in use for longer. A longer term aim is to change behaviour around repair and re-use through an education and awareness programme, and to increase impact through replication beyond Dacorum.

Our plans focus on making (using reclaimed materials such as wooden pallets – see photos – and redundant bike parts), mending (keeping household and other items in use for longer) and learning (both sharing skills within The Repair Shed and offering repair and DIY courses in the wider community).

In the coming months, we’ll be making links with local businesses to source surplus materials and explore other opportunities for partnership, including working with older employees.

We currently have eight ‘founder members’ of The Repair Shed and we’ll be working with partner organisations to identify and recruit others in the 50+ age group to join us as the project develops.

Ultimately, we aim to inspire change in attitudes and behaviour around waste and the environment by planting ideas and involving local people in seeing and doing things differently.

For more on the WRAP Innovation in Waste Prevention Fund go to


IMG_5380 Creative play on Rainbow Street

We’re pleased to announce our first ‘community commission’ from the Margaret Lloyd Play Centre in Hemel Hempstead.

Creativity is at the heart of playgroup activity there. Their ‘Rainbow Street’ outdoor play area features some wonderfully colourful wooden play houses and emergency vehicles. The Repair Shed will be making additional creative play equipment from reclaimed materials.  Suggestions include a post box, road signs, market stalls and a village pump.

If you know a local company with surplus supplies of wood, plastic piping and other materials – The Repair Shed would love to hear from you. Call Chris Lee on 07962 157589.


Toasting success??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

A session with a broken toaster beautifully illustrates what The Repair Shed is all about. A toaster had managed to blow a home fuse – could Repair Shed members fix it? First problem – getting inside; triangular headed screws are designed to keep you out. Creatively, Steve takes a donated screwdriver and files it down to fit the screws and we’re in.

Seamus and Chris T are trained in electrics; they use a donated meter to test the internal circuits – no problem there. Adrienne and Chris L look on with beginners’ questions and unhelpful suggestions.

After a bit of a clean, a lot of laughs, and more unhelpful suggestions, the toaster is put back together again… and it works! The owner is so impressed she donates the toaster to The Repair Shed for toasted sandwiches in cold weather. A job well done.

December 2014

IMG_6247Why The Repair Shed?

When faced by life-changing experiences – retirement, unemployment, bereavement, divorce, estrangement from family, or moving to a new home – older men can feel disconnected and dislocated, particularly when their identify and sense of self-worth has been tied up with paid employment.

Compared with women, men in later life are at greater risk of loneliness which, across all ages, is estimated to have a negative health impact equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The Repair Shed is part of a wider international movement developing Sheds as a vehicle for connecting older men to like-minded people and the wider community, through rewarding, often physical, activity.

Talking about Men’s Sheds…

Learn how older men are staying healthy and happy with these three films:

Men’s Sheds – where men talk ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ Learn what happens in Ireland

Take a look inside the Camden Men’s Shed   (4 minute clip)

Better Shed than Dead a 45-minute documentary first shown on the Community Channel

A BIG thank you & season’s greetings

We are so grateful to all who have helped develop The Repair Shed over the past year

Special thanks to Community Action Dacorum and Sunnyside Rural Trust for providing facilities – office and workshop space – and organisational support. Thank you to the School for Social Entrepreneurs in Ipswich for start-up guidance and peer support through a 12-month group learning programme to October 2014, including mentoring support from Lloyds Bank.

Wenta is generously providing free desk space and business support at their business incubator in Stevenage for 12 months to May 2015.  Other members of the UK Men’s Sheds Association have shared their learning willingly, and an UnLtd Spark Award in early 2014 funded a shed crawl from Hemel Hempstead to Aylesbury and Milton Keynes that was truly inspiring.

Finally, we continue to be amazed and delighted by the generosity of individuals and organisations donating tools and surplus materials. Making, mending and learning for people and the planet is at the heart of what we hope to achieve in the months and years ahead – we appreciate your support.

Staying healthier and happier for longer…

Men’s Sheds in Australia Research on the health benefits of Men’s Sheds in Australia, the home of the international movement, go to

Health, happy, connected A guide for older people at

For further sources on active ageing, go to

Don’t despair – repair!

Volunteer repairers at June 2014 Community Repair Day

Volunteer repairers at June 2014 Community Repair Day

What do you do when your much-loved item of clothing, electrical gadget, bike or tool needs mending – throw it away? Of course not, you take it to your nearest community repair event to save money, learn new skills, and keep it out of landfill.

Last summer, The Repair Shed ‘went public’ with a Community Repair Day – part of the Hemel Food Garden’s Open Day.

“Excellent – very helpful” and “Fantastic” was the verdict from two happy owners of a broken loudspeaker and bike – both brought in for assessment and, where possible, repair. Other items in need of care and attention included a suitcase, iPhone, a pair of curtains, some holey socks, and some wobbly wooden chairs. Another owner brought a record player with a turntable that wouldn’t turn. The problem was quickly identified and the owner left knowing where to find a replacement belt. She said “The people from The Repair Shed were very helpful and enthusiastic. Getting the turntable working again will be very cheap, but it could have cost a lot just to find out whether it was worth mending.”

STOP PRESS:  We’re delighted to announce that The Repair Shed is one of the first ten projects across the country to be supported by the WRAP Innovation in Waste Prevention Fund – details to follow in the January edition of Make & Mend.

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