A community space led by volunteers is giving patients at Arthur Rank Hospice Charity in Cambridge the chance to learn new skills and socialise.
Arthur’s Shed was funded through a generous gift left in a will, and opened its doors at the same time as the hospice in November 2016. Inspired by the Men’s Shed movement, the studio room was integrated within hospice’s design as a non-clinical space, where people connected to the hospice and the wider community can come together to share skills, learn something new and socialise.
Project Coordinator Jan Wilderspin was recruited after a grant was secured from The Big Lottery Fund, to develop the initiative further. Having been in post since August 2018, she has cultivated a diverse time-table of volunteer-led activities which are open to everyone, including the hospice’s patients, their family members, staff, volunteers and the general public. She explains:
“Arthur’s Shed has always been a popular space, but within the last six months it’s really come into its own, with people coming along each month to enjoy everything from carpentry in the Men’s Shed to tapestry, sugar craft to model railway, still-life drawing to health information sessions, watercolour painting to T’ai Chi.
“Our ‘Shedders’ have really enjoyed themselves: many have commented on how relaxing they have found the sessions; some have even found that their confidence has increased. Arthur’s Shed has become a real hub of the hospice. We have met a wonderful cross section of the local community and it has added value to the lives of those who already knew of us, as well as introducing the hospice to people who had never previously walked through our doors.”
Between ten and twenty sessions are held every week, thanks to local support and grants, with Arthur’s Shed collectively welcoming 100 people each month. As well as providing a safe, warm and friendly venue where volunteers share their time and talents, the community space has played an important part in helping the community see what the hospice is really like.
Dr Lynn Morgan, CEO at Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, adds:
“When we were designing the new hospice, we were determined that we should have these spaces which are open to the wider community, like Arthur’s Shed, our Bistro and our Education & Conference Centre. So many people have no idea of what a hospice is really like and – inevitably – as soon as they step through our doors, their fears disappear as they realise what a warm and special place Arthur Rank Hospice is. Now we just need to find some fabulous volunteers who will champion Arthur’s Shed, support our Shedders and continue to progress its place in the Hospice and the community.”