APPLY TODAY to the Scottish Community Alliance’s Learning Exchange grant program
Shed members of the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association (SMSA) qualify to apply for up to 100% of the accommodation and travel costs, to learn through the exchange of ideas and the sharing of common solutions with other Men’s Sheds/community groups across Scotland, through its membership agreement with the Scottish Community Alliance’s Learning Exchange grant program.
Amanda Cornish from the Scottish Community Alliance said: “The Community Learning Exchange is an opportunity for community groups to visit fellow organisations and learn from their experience. The programme funds travel and subsistence expenses up to £750, including a fee for the host organisation.I know that the Scottish Men’s Sheds which have already taken advantage of the exchange programme have found it extremely beneficial and enjoyable! Although there is no deadline for applications, funds will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis and once they are gone, they are gone. So, don’t delay, apply today.”
Jason Schroeder, SMSA Executive Officer, said: “Through our partnership with the Scottish Community Alliance, SMSA Shed members have access to this fantastic opportunity to gain insight into a community with shared challenges and vision. There is so much to be learned from these visits and meeting people with similar interests and goals. These visits inspire groups with new ideas and solutions to take back to their own projects.”
Feedback from participating groups:
- “We all admitted that interacting with other Sheds is something we should try to do more of! It is all too easy to stick to your own Shed but this networking and sharing of ideas is key for success.”
- “Several people told us it was the best study visit they’d ever been on.”
- “The application process was straightforward and the response swift.”
- “A thoroughly great day was had by all and we hope to return in the future.”
How do Sheds apply?
In July 2021, the Scottish Community Alliance (SCA) announced changes to the way applications to the Community Learning Exchange are processed. The new protocol for this grant funding asks for interested parties to now make contact directly with their SCA member network—in terms of Scottish Men’s Sheds, this is the SMSA—in advance of applying to ensure that the network has knowledge of the application and is willing to endorse it. Therefore, SMSA Shed members should contact Sue Salter, SMSA Administrator in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07465 202834.
Dunoon Men’s Shed’s learning visit to Dunbar Community Shed
Dunoon Men’s Shed has visited Dunbar Community Shed to share experiences and learn from each other—thanks to a £745 grant through the Scottish Community Alliance (SCA) Learning Exchange 2021/2022.
The SCA Learning Exchange funds up to 100% of the costs—up to £750 for travel, accommodation and subsistence—for a visit by members of one community project to another.
Iain MacNaughton and Ian Graham of the Dunoon Men’s Shed had a wonderful day as guests of Dunbar Craft Centre and Community Shed on the 28th October 2021.
Dunbar Men’s Shed was originally located in the Belhaven Parish Church Hall but for several reasons was unable to continue operating there. Dunbar Craft Centre (DCC) came to the rescue and offered part use of their premises. Dunbar Men’s Shed was then rebranded as the Dunbar Community Shed (DCS).
The DCC is located within the Dunbar Business Centre and has a retail outlet on Dunbar main street. The DCC is a limited company, which employs several local people in its shop. The DCS has the use of a room adjacent to the craft centre which has been transformed into a comfortable and welcoming workshop.
Iain MacNaughton, Funding Sub-Committee Chair of Dunoon Men’s Shed, said: “The purpose of our visit to the community shed was to interact with their members and discuss a range of topics including: how they operate with shared premises; how they interact with other groups and Sheds; the range of diverse activities they offer to members; their ideas and future intentions; and how they bring the community together to alleviate loneliness and improve healt+h and wellbeing.
“On arrival, it was immediately obvious that DCS has an excellent relationship with DCC. The two organisations integrate well and share access to their respective working areas. This promotes a communal feeling and a sense of belonging which the Dunoon Shedders experienced as the day went on.
“Due to space constraints, the main focus of the Shed is woodworking. The members have been clearly innovative—making the best use of the space available. The working area is warm, inviting and conducive to members feeling at home in a safe environment.
“It was great to see some of their current Shed projects including a large model of conservation pioneer, John Muir—a Dunbar man and the genius behind national parks who died in 1914—for an upcoming community event and benches that are hinged for easy storage. The members have cleverly and finely honed their designs and sell the products through their community shop to raise funds.
“Sub-committees, and spreading the workload, was also discussed. The DCS has a Board of Trustees, a Shed sub-committee, a grant sub-committee, a garden sub-committee, and a Cowal vintage vehicle sub-committee. All hold their own meetings and raise funds and each has a Trustee representing the Board who reports back to the Trustees.
“Dunoon Men’s Shed is looking to purchase a portable cabin for crafts and, through this visit, we received valuable information on how to go about setting this up. Knitting, sewing, card making, board games, lampshade making, wet and dry felting, flower arranging, cooking classes, coin collecting, stamp collecting, basket weaving, clock repairs, jewellery making, art and pyrography were all suggested and discussed. It was also suggested we make individual days/evenings for each activity to allow people to attend the sessions they are most interested in.
“As a group, we discussed many opportunities and the issues Sheds face. Raising awareness in the community in terms of advertising and promotion was another hot topic. Getting the word out there to hard to reach groups such as those not on social media and people with disabilities/learning difficulties can be a particular challenge. The group discussed connecting with local befrienders and connect organisations to explain what the Shed has to offer.
“Throughout the course of our visit, there were people constantly popping in or saying they were returning later to help out. At one stage, my brother Francis—who I had no idea was coming along—turned up at the Shed and was made to feel very welcome and expressed an interest in joining as a member. It is a very small world indeed.
“At around 4pm, there was a flurry of excitement as their Shed members brought out several easels they had manufactured for their next activity—their popular art class—it was great to see.
“An ex-lighthouse keeper, Barry Craighead, also arrived when we were there and, when we got talking, he told us he is at present trying to establish a Shed in East Linton. The Shed is currently operating in a portacabin and has been running in name only for approximately two years. We suggested that Barry get in touch with the SMSA for advice on the way forward. Barry advised us that they are allowed to use the land their portacabin is on free of charge. In turn, the owner’s plants are looked after. A great example of interaction between Shed and landlord for the common good.
“All too soon, it was time to leave. We arrived early at the Shed that morning and intended to only stay until 2pm–to not overstay our welcome. Well, we need not have worried about that. By 4pm, we felt we were part of their Shed! Time flew by and the conversation flowed.
“We all admitted that interacting with other Sheds is something we should try to do more of! It is all too easy to stick to your own Shed but this networking and sharing of ideas is key for success. This visit proved that there is always something to learn from another Shed and you will always receive a friendly welcome.
“They really laid out the red carpet for us. Cath Finlayson, Bob Fleet, Nigel Booth, Tania King, Barry Craighead, Julie Arthur and Ute Penny of the Craft shop in the High Street, could not have made us more welcome. We arrived as strangers and left as friends and for this, we are extremely thankful.
“We must also thank the SMSA team who assisted us to set up this inter-Shed visit and the Scottish Community Alliance who kindly provided the finances for the trip—allowing us to travel from Dunoon to Dunbar and back and stay in comfortable accommodation for two nights—and the opportunity to learn so much.
“A thoroughly great day was had by all and we hope to return in the future.”