Spotlight on a Member: The Shed Project

The Shed Project Members holding the poppies they've made

Interested in volunteering at The Shed Project? Want to know more about what they do? Read on….

If you find yourself sitting at a picnic table or on a bench in one of our beautiful local parks, chances are this furniture has been made by the multi-talented team of craftspeople at The Shed Project’s woodwork shop.

This extraordinary organisation started in an old shed on Kapiti Road, where a small group of young men would gather for woodwork lessons and then cook and enjoy a delicious BBQ every Friday. Such was the success of this venture that in 2014 KCDC supported them to relocate to Tongariro Street - where it now flourishes as The Shed Project, a self-sustaining social enterprise supporting differently able people.

When walking through the front door, visitors come face to face with the prolific creativity that lies within the building. To the left there’s a colourful gallery area where beautiful paintings, pottery items and sculptures are displayed for sale. Directly ahead, there’s a shop bursting with all manner of repaired, renovated and repurposed pieces, household and other goods donated to sell.

Veer right, and you enter a world buzzing with the sound of saws, sanders, drills and the ever-present smell of fresh sawdust. The woodwork shop is The Shed’s beating heart, a labyrinth of rooms from where an extraordinary array of wooden items are made or renovated. Whether it’s a tired 1930’s art deco dressing table needing a makeover or a coffin being made and decorated to order, no challenge is too daunting for the team!

Around 300 people participate in The Shed Project’s various activities. Ranging from employability training to artistic and expressive pursuits including painting, pottery, music composition and performance, drama and dance, and sporting activities such as sailing, swimming and horse riding that foster enjoyment and wellbeing. Programmes are designed and delivered by a group of tutors dedicated to providing an inclusive environment that nurtures talent, unlocks potential and creates opportunities for all participants.

Perhaps the most iconic items to emerge from The Shed Project in recent times have been the giant ANZAC poppies and daffodils. Made from old 7 and 12 inch vinyl records, these gorgeous flowers make fantastic garden features, whilst raising funds for the RSA and the Cancer Society. Last year alone, over 12,000 poppies were sold, yielding a substantial donation to the RSA and funds to enable The Shed Project’s people to enjoy various excursions and social activities.

Services have recently extended north to the Ōtaki Maori Racecourse, where a second site has been brought into operation, offering tutoring in life skills such as cooking and baking, together with training in gardening basics and seed production.

The Shed Project is currently offering volunteering opportunities to be involved in this mahi, both at their Paraparaumu and Ōtaki sites. Tutors for Gardening skills and Cooking and Baking classes are needed. Learn more about these fantastic roles here: Tutors.

If you happen to be in Tongariro Street, do stop by The Shed Project for a browse. In the entrance, cast your eyes up to the rafters and you will see a sign that sums up what The Shed Project is all about. Put simply, its ‘Our People, Our Place’.

Thank you to Bron Thomas, our Volunteer Member Spotlight Writer for this story.