Retired men in the Reading area have the perfect toolkit for an active and enjoyable retirement thanks to the The Silvers’ Workshop based in West Reading.
The Silvers’ Workshop is a member of the UK Men’s Shed Association and takes its name from the colour of the members’ hair. It gives its members the opportunity to work on arts, crafts and DIY projects in the company of other like-minded men.
The group have established a well-equipped workshop which was officially opened by the Mayor of Reading in March. Thanks to the new workshop, members are able to make use of a variety of equipment including woodworking tools, planers, band saws and circular saws.
Members work on a wide range of projects many of which are of direct benefit to the community. Recent community projects have included making library boxes for public spaces in Wokingham, constructing mini kitchen units for a local preschool and repairing garden benches.
Perhaps even more important than the practical work is the friendly environment and opportunity for members to chat. The workshop has a designated midday lunch break and tea and coffee are always available. The group also regularly hosts talks from visiting speakers.
Tony Smith-Crallan, The Silvers’ Workshop Chairman, emphasised the importance of The Silvers’ Workshop for retired men. He said:
“Men are often very poor at continuing relationships beyond retirement. When you finish work you say you will keep in touch, but most people don’t. So it leads to loneliness and depression. We give people somewhere they can talk, somewhere they can come. It’s part of our aim to get people back into society and to gain some of the skills that we’re losing.”
Eddy Griffiths, a member who also sits on the group’s committee, discovered the Men’s Shed movement whilst staying with his son in Australia. He said:
“If a guy is sitting at home and getting depressed, it’s somewhere to come, do something and mix with other men. I’m 79, so there is no age limit.“
Eddy described the wide range of activities at the workshop. He likes to do woodwork and a bit of carpentry and has made a variety of things including a coffee table, a pot stand made from 12 bore bullets, a clock and bowls. He also does a bit of painting and has made some jewellery. He explained:
“It depends what you want to do, or you can just sit down and have a chat or read the newspaper if you want to.”
The Silvers’ Workshop has charitable status and is self-funded. Members pay a subscription fee plus a small fee per visit to help cover the costs. The organisation also receives many donations of equipment and raises money by the sale of items made at the workshop. The group was initially set up with help from The Earley Charity and began life at Jackson’s Corner before moving to its current premises in Hilcot Road last September.
The group currently has around 30 members and would like to attract more. They recently hosted two open days to show prospective new members what they do. Those keen to join the group are assured a warm welcome and are offered their first few visits for free. To help the less experienced, there is team of four designated members who are happy to train people on how to use the equipment.
The Silvers’ Workshop is open on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays between 10am-2pm.
Anyone who is interested can go along to the workshop during opening hours to find out more.
Further information is also available at The Silvers’ Workshop.