What is the Zoom Room?

Men’s Sheds Cymru are the organisation supporting the development of Men’s Sheds projects in Wales. We are a Hafan Cymru project funded by The National Lottery and have been operating in Wales for almost 6 years, during which time we have moved from no sheds to around 65.

The project has been a great success and we have a range of sheds engaging in such activities as woodworking, gardening, photography, music making and even lunch making. Two things that sheds in Wales, in fact sheds across the world, have in common are the kettle and conversation. For some men their shed session is a genuine life line, and the social interaction they get at the shed has made immeasurable improvements to their lives.

Things were going so well tackling social isolation and loneliness in Wales, one shed at a time, and then there was COVID 19, and then there was social distancing. How on earth do you tackle social isolation during a time of social distancing? It has been a challenge even for those of us with strong family and friend connections, but for some shed members lock-down is a frightening return to loneliness; perhaps even intensified by the loss of recently discovered camaraderie.

One thing Men’s Sheds Cymru would like to try to help ease this situation is to establish a series of video conference sessions, ‘virtual sheds’ most likely using the Zoom video conferencing service. The thing about a men’s shed and that which actually gets men interested in coming along to join in, is that there is something interesting to do; a group with a purpose or reason. Sure, there is a lot of talking once they are there, but it’s the workshop or the gardening or whatever, that draws men in more effectively than a coffee morning or lunch club.

So here is our idea. We want to invite a series of guest speakers to our Zoom-room virtual shed, to give a short presentation about their work or interest, and then to hold a question and answer or discussion session. Men’s Sheds Cymru are reaching out to all sorts of different people with specialist knowledge, we would like our guest speakers to be crafts people, carpenters, cabinet makers, artists, musicians, historians, engineers, vintage car restorers, gardeners. This list is a work in progress, so please feel free to imagine yourself included; suggestions welcome.

The presentations our guests give could take a number of different forms. They might include a virtual walk around a workshop, or a demonstration of wood-turning, carving, or similar. They might include the sharing of pictures, or just a spoken presentation about whatever their special interest is. We are very open to suggestions and would like speakers to interpret the brief as they see best.

So here is the request: Do you have a specialist skill or interest that might be interesting to a small group of men? Would you be willing to give an hour or so of your time to share an insight into your world? If you do, and if this sounds even a little bit interesting to you, then please get in touch with Chris Southern, from the Men’s Sheds Cymru team (details below).

We don’t know exactly what this project will look like, how it will develop, or who will get involved. One thing we do know, because it always works out like this with men’s sheds, is that it will be informal, it will be hilarious, and will be heart-warming. What is more, if you do get involved you’ll be glad you did. I really hope you fancy having a go, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Chris Southern can be contacted by email: chris.southern@hafancymru.co.uk or by phone 07876 680667.