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The History of The Shed Project -
Rev Tommy MacNeil
Where it began
I’m often asked the question, where did The Shed Project come from? The answer is two fold. Back in 2006 when I came to be the minister of Martin’s Memorial, we organised our first Christmas Giving Tree initiative. The idea behind this was that we would partner with local agencies (Alcohol and Drug Support, Homelessness, Social Work, Hebrides Alpha, Women’s Aid, etc) in getting basic information about individuals and families they were working with. We would then pin these anonymous details on a Christmas Tree in our church and invite our church family to take away one of the slips of paper with the details and return them to the church with Christmas gifts they had bought. We would then deliver the gifts to the agencies who would distribute them to their service users. In the first year we gave our over 90 gifts. In 2020 it was over 160. So in the 15 years that we’ve run this we’ve given away close to 2000 gifts to people in our community. A simple way of us expressing our love to people. At the same time, it was an important step in opening the eyes of the people in our church to see that there were people in our community who faced challenges and had real needs. And that we could all do our little bit in helping meet some of these needs.
We've always had a strong youth work element to our work as a church. We were keen to develop this further to support youth in the community who were facing various challenges. At the same time, we were keen to build better bridges with the agencies we were partnering with through our Giving Tree initiative.
We had a growing desire to provide a neutral space where we could meet with people where they were at, and with no expectation whatsoever about them attending church. All our community engagement runs under the banner of ‘No Strings Attached!’ The Shed would become the main way for us developing and growing this crucial aspect of our work in and around the community.
Planning & Fundraising
We began planning and fundraising towards the new building in 2012. The land on which it is built was very kindly gifted to us with a generous donation to kick-start our fundraising campaign. The new build would cost £270,000. We raised a third from our own church family; a third was raised externally (grants and trusts); and we secured a grant and loan from The Church of Scotland General Trustees for the final third.
Fast forward two years and we have plans in place and have secured the services of a local builder. As The Shed building takes shape were then left dumbstruck by a series of events that led to the building being opened in May 2014 by Their Royal Highnesses the Earl and Countess of Wessex, now Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh. A remarkable and fitting end to a remarkable journey. The Shed wasn’t just vision becoming reality for Martin’s Memorial and our surrounding community, it literally had a Royal Seal of approval.
The Shed has enabled us to move from being a ‘one day a week service church to being a seven day a week serving church’. It houses all our Youth and Schools work, and our developing Community Work. The building is also used by other partner organisations. Our mission statement sums up the heart behind what we do - ‘Serving our community to the best of our ability!’ Our hope, our heart, is to continue to do that for many years to come.
We currently operate with an annual expenditure exceeding £180,000, and this year, we face an urgent budget shortfall of nearly £80,000. This critical funding is dedicated to sustaining and expanding our Youth and Schools Work, a vital initiative that's growing rapidly.
What We Do in Youth Work
- We provide focused relational support to pupils from P7 through to S6, working with them during their crucial transition to S1, and then through their secondary school journeys.
- Our dedicated mentors offer one-on-one guidance, helping these young individuals navigate the challenges of school life and beyond.
- We equip them with essential life skills to confidently step into the world beyond school.
How You Can Make a Difference!
- By joining our Crowdfunder page, you're not just making a donation; you're becoming an integral part of our mission. Your support ensures that our Youth and Schools Work can continue to flourish, positively impacting the lives of countless young individuals.
- Be a catalyst for change in the lives of our youth.
- Empower the next generation to dream big and reach their full potential.
- Create a lasting legacy of support that echoes through generations.
Together, we can bridge the funding gap, safeguard our vital work, and inspire a brighter future for the youth and schools in our community. Join us today in making a profound impact on young lives. Every contribution counts!