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Share Shed Totnes: Sharing Uni-Cycles, Guitars and Valuable Conversations!

The Network of Wellbeing helped launch Share Shed Totnes in Devon, UK in April 2017. It acts as a type of “library of things”; a place where people can borrow tools and other equipment that they need, but might not be able to afford or want to buy. Two months on, NOW’s Director, Roger Higman interviews the Share Shed Manager, Mark Jeffreys, to find out how things are going. He finds people are using Share Shed Totnes to borrow and lend a wealth of items, including uni-cycles, guitars and strimmers. And that it turns out one of the most important things shared is often lovely conversations!

(The below video was made by activist Rob Greenfield, and has been viewed over one million times on Facebook!) 

Interview with Share Shed Totnes Manager, Mark Jeffreys:

Roger Higman, NOW Director: “So Mark, what’s the Share Shed about?”

Mark Jefferys, Share Shed Totnes Manager: “For me, the Share Shed is about thinking before you buy. I want people to think, ‘Could I borrow that instead of buying it? Oh yes! I think the Share Shed might have a long-handled lopper! I'll just look online .... Wow! They've got two and I can even reserve it for next week!  What a great project’”.

Roger: “Great. And what are your aims?”

Mark: “My aims are to encourage more sharing in every way possible; increasing our membership weekly, and having a constant flow of items coming in and out!”

Roger: “I understand that over 150 items have been donated by the local community for people to borrow at the Share Shed. What’s the most popular item for far?”

Mark: “So far it's the strimmer!”

Roger: “And what’s the strangest thing that you can borrow?”

Mark: “That's probably the uni-cycle, although the lawn aerators that you strap onto your boots come a close second!”

Roger: “Wow! I might try them myself. You’ve told me that the Share Shed now has over 60 members. What is the nicest feedback given about the project so far?  

Mark: “My favourite story is about a guitar, as I’m a guitarist myself. We have a lovely guitar that was borrowed for a week. At the end of the week, the person asked if he could have it a second week, as he was getting on so well, and of course, we said yes. And he borrowed it for a third week!

“Finally, he returned it and got on so well that he's now going to buy his own. I recommended a few local places he could try, and I also asked if he'd come back and give us a song one day!”

[Check out a video of Mark, on his guitar, performing the Share Shed song, his very own composition, at the launch event here].

Roger: “That’s marvellous! It’s great to see the Share Shed making a difference to people’s lives. Can you give us any more examples of how it's helped people?

Mark: “A big part of the Share Shed is about rebuilding community. We have had many wonderful conversations already, with volunteers and passers-by, and I see this as a key element of what the Share Shed provides”.

Roger: “And finally, what are your plans and hopes for the future?”

Mark: “I'm really looking forward to getting a wooden bench, being made by Landworks on the Dartington Estate in Totnes, which will say 'Share a Conversation'. This will sit outside the Share Shed when we're open, when there is sunshine, and cups of tea will of course also be available!

“Further ahead, I'm really keen to move into a bigger space, where we can perhaps offer skill shares, a repair cafe, and a place to collect, sort and clean the many items we are receiving!

“And I'm hoping we can inspire others to start their own projects. I think the Share Shed really is 'an idea whose time has come'.”

Roger: Thank you, Mark.

Find out more about Share Shed Totnes here, and by visiting the Share Shed website and liking the Share Shed page on Facebook to stay updated. 

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