Apologies from the web jockey for not updating things here, much to deal with. My ducks are beginning to resemble a row formation so herewith an update.
It is now 8 months since the first lockdown began on 23rd March 2020. We have all become very familiar with what this virus has done to everyone, from individuals to families to the NHS, to businesses and to our social lives. Unfortunately and for very good reason we have had to remain closed as a face-to-face operational Men’s Shed, but this has not meant nothing has happened. There have been a fair number of smaller and larger things added or improved, and key individuals have been able to go into the shed singly in order to continue transforming what was a blank and underused space into the Banchory Men’s Shed. Thanks are due to Paul, Alan P, and others for continuing to push forward, and a summary from chairman Paul Evans follows…
“What we did in lockdown”
As you may have read in older updates, the building work was completed by McCombie Building Ltd. in February and the Shed was briefly opened in March, to the great delight of everyone who had worked so hard since April 2015 when the Banchory Shed was first mooted. By then, we had the building complete, decorating all finished, and the Social Area in good shape with furniture and with carpet tiles provided by Duncan’s. It needed some more work to organise the Workshop properly, as we had basically thrown everything we owned in there. It was not a tidy sight. During the lockdown, we have put a final touch to the building fabric by installing roller blinds to help keep the sun out of our eyes – very necessary as many will know. Still, the sun keeps our leccy bill down.
COVID-19 precautions meant that the Shed has been closed since 15th March and this necessitated cancellation of the opening ceremony planned for 19 May 2020. Nevertheless, we have managed to keep in contact via weekly Zoom meetings on Tuesday mornings, and in addition, Paul, Alan and others have continued visiting singly to progress organisation and tidying up of the workshop and various other things, some of which below
We have also made progress in a number of financial areas. Age Scotland awarded us £500 for installation of fibre broadband, which is now in and working. As we are registered for Business Rates we were also eligible for a generous Coronavirus Business Support Scheme grant which has proven extremely useful. The GVC Fund awarded the Shed just over £2,000 to buy two eBikes, with associated equipment and insurance, which we have done. The Scottish Government Community Wellbeing Fund also funded the first-year costs of a full Zoom license which has meant we have been able to hold our Tuesday morning meetings without hesitation, repetition or indeed interruption by their 40 minutes limit on the free package.
One issue we are tackling is that HMRC are requiring the Shed to submit Corporation Tax returns. This may be because for some reason the Shed (as a Charity) was also registered as a Company in its early days, and according to Companies House still is. We thought that we had challenged this, but our Treasurer is now taking up the matter with them, so we hope this can be put to bed before too long.
Our famous blue shipping container, kindly donated by McIntosh Plant, and accommodated by the Legion, next to their building, served us well for 5 years to store equipment in readiness for our own premises. It finally outlived its usefulness (and its planning permission!) with the opening of the Shed and we have managed to dispose of it advantageously. We regretfully also needed to find a new home for the excellent trailer kindly donated by Dave Thomson’s widow and as we were unable to continue to store it managed to sell it for funds.
There have been some significant finds in terms of workshop machines and tools.
A lady in Aberdeen offered us a pre-owned ML7 metalworking lathe in fantastic condition and with many accessories and materials, and we were fortunate enough to be able to meet the asking price. We expect there to be considerable demand to use this machine as it is a quality bit of kit.
A second-hand metalworking bench with a large vice has been purchased, and a woodworking bench with a woodworking vice was kindly donated by Inchmarlo Community Workshop. A second-hand dust extractor and a planer / thicknesser have been purchased, both from Westhill Men’s Shed. Thank you to all of these other local Men’s Sheds.
Finally, and as mentioned above, two eBikes were purchased from Halfords in October to meet funder’s requirements, even though some of the associated activity is limited until 2021.
Computers & IT
One of our target activities is to provide various computer familiarisation and training capabilities, so we have again been fortunate in several areas, in addition to the fibre broadband mentioned above.
We have been kindly donated a 3D printer and after some initial work on getting it running we have found our next need is the CAD software necessary to build the 3D models needed by the printer, so we are now working on that.
Also, the Shed now has three donated laptops, usable for general or training use. These run a mixture of Windows and Linux – the older machines only ran old unsupported copies of Windows and a Linux version specifically targeted at older machines has given these a new lease of life. (Linux is quite similar to Windows XP/7 and is quite easy to pick up, whether you are used to Windows or Apple). We are looking at upgrading the graphics card of one of these to enable an external monitor to be used to its full resolution, such as for CAD and the 3D printer.
A second-hand and high-powered desktop PC and a 30” monitor were also bought cheaply and together with a pair of donated speakers they serve as a good audiovisual system.
As you will know, the Shed has this website, plus accounts on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google My Business, eBay, Amazon, Gumtree, Freecycle and others. So we have gone where no Shed has gone before, sought out new worlds and new civilisations.
Our membership has been climbing one by one, some achievement, I think, with a closed shed. If anyone new or old is in need of any support during these times, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us, the key contacts are on our Contacts page, and we also look forward to seeing you when we open again once the vaccine has been rolled out.