The Repair Shed™


The Repair Shed

Launched in central Hemel Hempstead in summer 2014  For further information contact

Bob Curtis, Wednesday team leader 01442 404994

John McKewan, Thursday team leader 07831 659982

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Answers to some of your questions…

What is The Repair Shed?

The Repair Shed aspires to be an environmental social enterprise, based at the Hemel Food Garden in southwest Hertfordshire (see photo) which is run by local charity Sunnyside Rural Trust. It aims to provide a supportive environment in which older men (50+) who are practically-minded can make things, do repairs, share skills and learn new ones.

As a social enterprise, the organisation aims to become financially self-sustaining from making, mending and learning – selling products and services as appropriate. The Shed is equipped with donated hand and power tools and is also acquiring new equipment.

Volunteer repairers at June 2014 Community Repair Day

Volunteer repairers at June 2014 Community Repair Day

The Repair Shed has been active over the past two years, having ‘gone public’ with a free Community Repair Day in June 2014 to which people brought broken items for assessment and, where possible mending, by volunteer repairers.

For a short film about the Community Repair Day, go to

Inside The Repair Shed

The Repair Shed occupies a purpose-built 350 sq ft workshop shared with Sunnyside Rural Trust, equipped with a wood-turning lathe. Other tools, equipment and products are stored in a separate container.









Partners in developing The Repair Shed

SRT logoThe Repair Shed is located in Hemel Hempstead, south west Herts at the Hemel Food Garden – a social enterprise of Sunnyside Rural Trust


CAD_new_LOGO_2014The Repair Shed is set up under the umbrella of Community Action Dacorum (CAD – ) – a 60 year old charity and company limited by guarantee based in Hemel Hempstead.



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About Men’s Sheds:

The Repair Shed is the first Men’s Shed in Hertfordshire of over 400 across the UK. To find your nearest Men’s Shed go to 

Most Men’s Sheds are about bringing older men together to stay healthier and happier for longer by making, mending and learning.

UKMensShedsAssociation colour logoMen’s Sheds have been described as ‘half way between work and home’. In Australia, the birthplace of the worldwide Men’s Sheds movement where there are more than 1,000 Sheds, they say “men don’t talk face-to-face, they talk shoulder-to-shoulder.” The Repair Shed is a member of the UK Men’s Sheds Association.

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 film clip)

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


Who are Repair Shed members?

We’ve defined a ‘typical Repair Shed member’ as a NIPPER – someone Not In Permanent Paid Employment, or Retired.  NIPPERs are:

  • Men aged 50+ (but not exclusively so)
  • May be getting over difficulties in their lives
  • Have low support needs and can be independent
  • Like doing things with their hands… and having fun
  • Want regular involvement with a friendly team

When faced by life-changing experiences (unemployment, retirement, bereavement, divorce, estrangement from family, or moving to a new home) older men in the 50+ age group can feel disconnected and dislocated, particularly when their identify has been tied up with their working lives. Sheds connect older men to like-minded people and to the wider community, through purposeful, often  physical, activity that can sustain identity, self-esteem and wellbeing.

Can women join?

Jean-Marie - a visitor from France - and founder Repair Shed member Adrienne work on the low planter

Jean-Marie – a visitor from France – and founder Repair Shed member Adrienne work on the low planter

  • The primary social purpose of The Repair Shed is to keep older men healthier and happier for longer and our activities are intended to further this aim.
  • It’s important that men feel comfortable and able to talk about issues, including their personal health, that they might not in a mixed group
  • That said, membership of The Repair Shed is not exclusively male. Even in Australia, how women are involved in ‘Men’s Sheds’ is down to the individual Shed. At The Repair Shed, two founder members are women.

IMG_4479Don’t despair – repair!

What do you do when your favourite item breaks – throw it away? Of course not – you bring it to a free community event to learn how to fix it and keep it in use.

“Excellent – very helpful”’ and “Fantastic” was the verdict from two happy owners of broken items attending Hemel Hempstead’s first Community Repair Day at the Hemel Food Garden.

The items – a bike and a loudspeaker – had been brought in for assessment and, where possible, repair along with a suitcase, an iPhone, a pair of curtains, socks in need of darning, and some wobbly wooden chairs.





The free event, part of an Open Day organised by Sunnyside Rural Trust, aimed to keep items in use by teaching people how to mend them. It attracted a range of challenges for the volunteer repairers – Repair Shed members.


IMG_4476IMG_4467None of the items were considered beyond repair, but two could not be mended on the day. The owner of the iPhone from Bovingdon was advised about another repair facility for getting it fixed. Ann Woolner from Hemel Hempstead had brought a record player with a turntable that wouldn’t turn. The problem – a perished drive belt – was quickly identified and Ann 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.”


IMG_4461IMG_4459For information and advice on repair and re-use, go to                

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What does The Repair Shed stand for?

Repair Shed colour squareS – social support for men at risk of isolation and loneliness

H – healthy habits for physical and mental wellbeing

E –  environmental education to change attitudes to consumption and waste

D – demand-led development with shed members at the heart of the enterprise

How does The Repair Shed earn income?    

Making – new products such as garden furniture and items for the home, made from reclaimed timber mainly old pallets.

Mending – paid-for repair services, alongside free community repair days (see above)

Learning – paid-for workshops and training courses in repair/refurbishment and DIY skills


Issues around scale and sustainability

If the first Repair Shed develops a financially viable business model, it has the potential to be replicated flexibly across Hertfordshire and beyond; significantly increasing the social and environmental impact.

How are the members involved?  Camden Shed 5

The men joining the Repair Shed as members play a key role in the design, management and operation of the Repair Shed – tapping into their skills in production, management, marketing and training.

‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing’   George Bernard Shaw


If you think The Repair Shed might be you, or you know someone who fits this description of a Shed member, please contact Bob Curtis, Wednesday team leader 01442 404994, or John McKewan, Thursday team leader 07831 659982

6 thoughts on “The Repair Shed™

  1. David Fitzpatrick

    58?? A mere spring chicken…., says a 60 year old deep in darkest Cardiff. A great scheme, one that needs replicating. Good luck with the Shed – and may 2014 be the success the scheme deserves.

    Nadolig Llawen, as is said in this neck of the woods.


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  4. Tonia Helsley

    My brother suggested I may like this blog. He was once totally right. This submit truly made my day. You cann’t consider just how so much time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

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