Hold an Information Meeting
To test the level of interest among local men in getting involved in a Shed, organising an information meeting is a good way to start. You can do this by first talking to a few friends or local people you know will be interested in helping you get started. Once they’re on board you can start organising the information meeting.
There are a few things to consider:
- Invitations & Advertising
- Running the meeting
Holding the meeting in a suitable venue is essential (e.g. a local community, church or sports hall could work perfectly) - somewhere that is comfortable and accessible.
Working off an agenda will help you to cover a small number of priority items and give direction to the meeting (see sample Agendas in Appendix 1).
"I’m Gerry and I set up a shed in Athy Co. Kildare… I like going to the men's shed for the company and the craic! there is the banter and divilment lads get up to at work - but replaced at the shed…" - Gerry Walsh,
Mens Shed, Athy
Advertising & Invitations
Getting the word around is vital. Local radio, parish newsletters, a poster campaign and/or using social media will enable you to reach as broad an audience as possible. Putting flyers through letterboxes and posters in local shops will also help get the word around.
You want to particularly reach men, as well as other local community members and potential businesses and sponsors that might be interested in getting involved. Engaging with men that may be your ‘shedders’ should be the focus of the first meeting. Choosing a date that does not clash with a major sporting event or another community event is wise!
Some invitations may need to be directed to individuals rather than a scatter-gun approach and then hoping for the best. Where you would like to have local voluntary and statutory groups represented, ‘Letters of Invitation’ should be addressed to a specific individual rather than using a flyer for this purpose.
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.
Give us a call if you have any questions on running your information meeting – we’re here to help!
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!
Be sure to keep an attendance record with contact details including Name, Address, Phone/Mobile and Email address. This information will allow you to keep in touch with people and provide short updates from time to time.