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Maxilla Men's Shed

About the programme

Connected with the international Men’s Shed movement, Maxilla Men's Shed is a community workshop and maker space with a focus on tackling social isolation, funded by the NHS North Kensington Recovery Programme.

Launched in September 2019, the Shed is based at ACAVA’s Maxilla Studios on the Westway estate in North Kensington. The Shed is primarily designed for men but also accommodates women, and it's a place to come and make, learn skills, stay active, and socialise.

Alongside providing specialist workshops and courses, the Shed runs weekly ‘Tinkering Sessions', where interaction with other users is central to the project's ethos, and the Shed embraces all new members into the fold.

Since opening Maxilla Men's Shed in October 2019, and despite the lockdowns, the Shed has facilitated over 800 places on courses, workshops and drop-in sessions, delivering over 180 sessions to 101 unique individuals.

When our doors were closed during the recent lockdowns we still delivered 126 hours of one to one support over 21 weeks.

Working with Kensington and Chelsea Social Council, the project has been made possible by funding from NHS West London Clinical Commissioning GroupRoyal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Public Health, and the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation.

 

Our projects

Tinkering Sessions (2019 – Present)
Weekly sessions designed to create a welcoming and engaging workspace, aiding participants to work on practical projects, follow hobbies, explore existing or newly learnt skills, share skills and enjoy the benefits of socialising and meeting others. 

Bug Hotels – Bee Superhighway Project (2021)
Led by the RBKC Ecology Team, with IdVerde the Bee Superhighway, Bee Superhighway aims to raise the profile of pollinators and their importance and provide education and engagement opportunities to enable residents, community groups, schools and businesses to contribute to the borough's pollinator network. Members of ACAVA's Maxilla Men's Shed have added to the project with the creation of 15 bug hotels (to be installed across the borough), which will act as shelter and nesting sites for local bumblebees, wild bees, butterflies, and other insects.
Learn more about this project here.

Spoon Carving (2020)
Working with artist, founder, and Director of Creative Nature HQ Stephen Stockbridge, we introduced spoon and woodcarving sessions to Shed participants. Learning the process from ‘tree to spoon’, exploring the qualities of different woods, and application of various tools involved for carving spoons. Bringing community, making, nature and wellbeing together.

Coppersmithing (2019)
Working with Artist Lizzie Hughes of the Urban Craft Foundation. The course comprised 6 sessions where participants learnt traditional techniques and created handcrafted copper bowls and trinkets.     

Pollinator Paths (2019) 
A collaboration between Maxilla Men’s Shed and London Sustainability Exchange (LSx) transforming RBKC’s outdoor spaces to help local pollinators. Community members were invited to learn the process of building windowsill planters under the guidance of a specialist carpenter. Participants then worked with LSx’s pollinator expert learning gardening for wildlife skills, to help foster green spaces and plant their windowsill box with compost, crocus bulbs and plants, ready to take home.

 

How you can get involved

To find out more about weekly Tinkering sessions contact Maxilla Men's Shed Programme Manager Rasha El-Sady: rasha.el-sady@acava.org 

To find out about up-and-coming specialist courses and workshops subscribe to ACAVA's newsletter and follow MMS on Instagram.

 

Words from our members:

"Doing something fresh. The space to work on messy projects. The shed prompts me to leave home, otherwise, I would stay home and sleep."

"Learning about all the tools and feeling a sense of achievement even if it's only a small thing like how to cut a piece of wood straight, makes me happy."

"The relaxed ambience and knowing that if I need help the others are willing to impart their knowledge and know-how to help out."

"I never knew I was good at carpentry, and it has given me lots of confidence in my ability"

"I really like coming in and working with my hands, especially with mobility restrictions on my arms. I’ve learnt a lot of new skills from people with different experiences"

"Socially I feel more confident to interact with a variety of different people. I love exploring my creative ideas and socialising during tinkering session"

"Everyone has been kind and patient with me which makes me feel really safe and happy in the shed environment"

"The social aspect is really good. Meeting people from different backgrounds has been great and I've learnt a lot from everyone"

"The Shed is like my second home, it’s a calming space for me. Exploring likeminded people and creativity, a retreat from the norm"

"In a word, ‘magic’. If you’re feeling gloomy, you show up there."

"With the problems in my accommodation here, if I can get a day in the Shed, or a half-day in the Shed, it’s a pick-me-up. The issues are about the tools and materials and the work and that kind of thing instead."

"You go in there with a problem, and you come out and you’ve forgotten the problem."

"[I enjoy] chatting to other people. There’s already a standing topic of conversation, and that is the job at hand."

"...There’s always a thing of satisfaction of doing something."

"There are some talented people there, artists, all talented in their own way. I’m good with anything making, fixing, helping and it just makes you feel better."

"I like to see Rasha because she’s always cheerful, and a couple of the other members are quite fun."

"It does bring me out of my depression when I’m there and listening to the others talk. It sort of cheers me up, it's something that I really look forward to when we go every week."

 

Words from our funders

"I feel that they reach parts of the community that are possibly quite hard to reach. So the Men’s Shed is quite unique."

"I think it's really interesting to see how, some of the things that they've done like whittling spoons...It's a diversionary tactic for boredom. And it's a great way of getting people to talk together. It’s more about the activity for the mental health...The demographic is not by accident. It's all those guys of a certain age who basically are isolated, but used to perhaps work in industry, perhaps they used to do labouring and stuff like that, and don’t have the social networks now they're no longer at work...There's that sort of very lonely demographic that they're looking for. And they’ve hit that demographic, and they're using the service."

"I see when I go there the camaraderie that comes with sharing the space...When they're not there, they really miss it...There was a newsletter where they're outside, working with their coats on and stuff [during lockdown]. It wasn’t ideal but they were there doing it, so that is a testament to the work that they've done and that the clients have a degree of ownership of what’s going on."

Dr Oisin Brannick, Clinical Lead Self Care and North Kensington, NHS WLCCG, said: "we know initiatives such as this bring people together to learn new skills and as a result improve people's health and wellbeing"

Cllr Sarah Addenbrooke, Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, RBKC, said: “The profound effect of loneliness and isolation has devastating effects on men’s health and remains a public health issue. The Council is committed to reducing loneliness and encouraging and supporting social interaction"