Hold a Public Meeting
This is a very important step as the more community support you attract the easier the job will be. A wide variety of enthusiastic supporters can also provide a wide range of skills and experiences.
Often an initial "show of interest" meeting can progress the idea and will motivate people to get involved. By holding a public meeting you will not only find potential members but organizations and businesses who may want to support a Men's Shed and its activities within the community. They may be also able to supply information concerning the needs of the local area and be interested in partnering or sponsoring a Men's Shed within the community.
These supporters can also become potential members for the Shed and may also donate equipment and services. This is the ideal forum for the project to really start to gain momentum after having identified the potential needs of the community. From this initial meeting it is also possible to form a Steering Committee and get the community involved at an early stage.
Planning the Meeting
- Find a free venue to host the meeting - any community centre, clubhouse, library etc. will work
- Identify a key person to facilitate/lead the meeting.
- develop an Agenda for the meeting - you can find a suggested Agenda in the Appendix to this guide
- Promoting & Inviting - place posters in shop windows and on community notice boards, contact your local newspaper as they will often provide a Public Notice at no charge, talk to as many people as possible- use word of mouth, discuss with Community Centres, Library staff and advertise within their facilities, contact the local radio stations, place notices in Doctor and Dental surgery waiting rooms as well as local pharmacies, notify local Service Clubs such as Lions, Rotary, discuss with and invite local Senior Groups, discuss with local health service providers such as the Community Nurse or Community Health Centre. It is important to have input from as many diverse organizations as possible!
Running the Meeting
It’s important to bill the meeting in terms of ‘Would you be interested in setting up and/or being part of a local Men’s Shed?’ This way you will not over commit yourself and others until the level of initial interest is clear and tangible, people will also feel part of the starting process and will be more willing to help out.
Having a person who is comfortable facilitating the business and process of the meeting will convey confidence to your audience and ensure that good participation happens. You should also have a person to keep notes of the meeting: the issues raised, suggestions made and additional information sought.
Very few people will refuse tea or coffee and something to nibble and it helps people to feel welcome and to mingle with others. So be prepared with some supplies and maybe even home baking to hand!
This meeting is the ideal occasion to recruit your first Interim Men's Shed Committee or Steering Committee:
1. Invite volunteers to establish a Steering Committee to advance the project. This may include volunteers with previous experience in working with project committees, Accounting, Secretarial and computer skills.
2. Try to meet again with the Steering Committee as soon as possible to maintain the momentum.
3. Be sure to get the names and contact details of all attendees for future reference-keep them informed of any progress and ask for help if required.
4. Set a date for the next meeting- in these early stages it is crucial to meet either formally or informally again in the near future to maintain the momentum and enthusiasm.
The newly formed working group or Steering Committee will guide the Association through its initial stages of establishment. By appointing a Steering Committee you can share the workload and work as a team with the same goals, moving in the same direction and utilising individual skills and experience. Define roles such as Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, and Publicity.