The Silvers’ Workshop were recently awarded RVA’s Safe + Sound Governance mark. We spoke to member and trustee Kevin Slade about the charity’s work, and the process of applying for Safe + Sound.
Tell us a little about The Silvers’ Workshop and how you got involved…
The Silvers’ Workshop is part of the UK Men’s Shed Association which began in 2013. Such has been the of success of the UK Men’s Shed Association, there are now well over 500 active sheds in the UK, with over 100 in development. The purpose of the organisation is to help eliminate isolation and loneliness in the older generation, especially men, and promote wellbeing and social interaction.
In 2014, following an open meeting held by The Early Charity, a few attendees decided to start a Shed in Reading and with a grant from the charity, The Silvers’ Workshop was formed. We now have over seventy members.
I became involved with The Silvers’ Workshop as a result of my son insisting I visit their workshop in the old Jackson’s Department Store in Reading. I had become somewhat isolated since retiring – my colleagues were still at work and I had lost that daily routine of attending a pressurised job I thoroughly enjoyed. Attending the workshop, I was met by several very enthusiastic members who showed me round and explained the ethos behind the Shed. I was sold, and joined there and then. I have since become a trustee and I serve as the secretary on the management team.
What encouraged you to apply for RVA’s Safe + Sound?
The simple answer to this question is RVA’s Advice Worker, Herjeet, following a trustee training course she held at our workshop. The course highlighted the need for us to manage our charity in an open and transparent manner which meant having specific documents in place for things such as governance and finance. These documents would also form the structure and process required for running the workshop. Having spent time on formalising these policies and management processes it was, as Herjeet said, only one more step to gaining Safe + Sound.
What did the process involve for the team?
We selected a small team to research the type of information necessary for each of the policies required and, with the assistance of RVA, drafted each in a very easy to understand format. Each policy was put before the management team for comment and where applicable, amended accordingly. Once the final approval had been received from the Board of Trustees these policies became operational documents and a tool for managing the workshop in a professional and proper manner. In all, we successfully completed fifteen policy and operational documents, with the whole process taking about nine months.
What benefits can you see for your charity from going through Safe and Sound?
We believe that having completed this exercise, with the valuable assistance of RVA, we have a robust system for managing the workshop enabling future trustees and management team members to carry on the process with ease. Also, we believe that in gaining Safe + Sound, future funders will take us seriously and have the confidence to invest in us knowing that we are able to manage properly and in the best interests of the charity.
What were the highlights for you this year? Are there any future plans or events for the charity that you’d like to tell us about.
The highlight so far this year has been the ability of our management team to produce such a comprehensive suite of policies and documents in such a short period of time, much of it in their personal time. It demonstrates the ethos of people from different backgrounds working together to achieve a common aim. Most refreshing.
We are looking forward to taking part in Silver Sunday on 6 October 2019, a day when hundreds of organisations representing the elderly come together across the country to showcase what clubs and organisations are out there to help reduce isolation and loneliness. The Silvers’ Workshop will be holding an open day as part of Silver Sunday.
Saturday 30 November and Saturday 14 December 2019 will bring The Silvers’ Workshop to Broad Street in Reading to sell our Christmas Reindeer and many other seasonal goods made by our very own Elves – we look forward to seeing you there.