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Salvos IDEAS Crowd

The Shack Youth Workshop.

by Brett Steele | Nov 11, 2019 | in Archived Ideas
Open Ideas/S3 - Feb20-Mar20

"The Shack" is a youth workshop which I co-founded 4 years ago based on The Mens Shed model, though targeted at local youth (regardless of gender) dealing with disadvantage. This disadvantage includes, but is not limited to those with disabilities or living in housing crisis (youth hostels, homeless etc).

The Shack has operated hand in hand with local schools, youth hostels as well as other agencies to help connect the old with the new within our community and provides a workplace for retired tradies and other members of our community with real life experience to pass on their skills and knowledge to local youth who, for whatever reason, may not have the role modelling and guidance, or even the space and tools available, to learn basic work skills, ethics and resourcefulness.

The Shack has also given opportunity for not only the mentors and volunteers to form a social hub in which they can continue to use the skills they have learnt over a lifetime, but also the opportunity for inter-generational connectedness  which has proven to promote a new level of co-operation, respect and friendship between the old and the new in our community.

The Shack has continued to operate for the last four years due to the fact that we teach kids about resourcefulness, re-purposing and re-using materials to create items which the kids then get to keep for themselves, gift to others or to sell in order to teach them the rewards of their efforts.

We have never charged any of the kids any fee for this and have gotten by for this time by way of not only community support, but also going out and actively chasing up free materials which otherwise would be discarded.

We spent the first three years of operation in a farmhouse shed at Terrara (Near Nowra) but this facility went by the wayside when one of our supporting businesses (who were paying the rent) went into liquidation, temporarily closing the doors and forcing us to put our equipment into storage.

We now have re-opened our doors at The Salvation Army Church in Nowra only a few weeks ago and already have local schools re-engaging with the facility.

I would love to see this project grow and hopefully expand to other areas as it has proven to be of huge benefit to not only the youth in connecting them with working skills and the community from which they would otherwise have been (to varying degrees) disconnected, but also gives meaning, continued socialising and focus to our retirees as well as benefiting the community as a whole by providing positive guidance and modelling to the generations who follow us through our community.

Please note, whilst the facility may look small in the video provided, all the work tables are re-purposed hospital beds which are not only height adjustable to facilitate comfortable workstations for all, but are also on wheels and are rolled outdoors to allow more workspace, also allowing the kids to work in the fresh air and sunshine.

What department are you from?

Pathways Shoalhaven AOD service

Who is your target market?

Youth aged 15 to 24, as well as retirees and older members of our community.

Brett Steele

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Kerry Rodgers Nov 11, 2019

I anticipate men actually being involved in that and that is why I have put together some ideas myself here in the last hour or so. I consider that would be workable only I am really uncertain of whether this would be church based and again I think you would need to form some ethic and throw it out so that please-people want to be involved. Yes!!


Brett Steele Nov 12, 2019

Hi Kerry. If you are thinking of setting up something similar in your area I am only to happy to fill you in on how "The Shack" evolved and what steps we took to get where we are. It is very different now to what I first aimed for, but that evolution has happened due to the need to adapt to not only make it relevant and of value to the clients we serve, but also sustainable on a shoe string budget.


Marc Allison Jan 23, 2020

What a beautiful idea, Ben!

Connectedness is an important thing for improving mental health.

This seems to be a repeatable and scaleable model, given the success of your approach and adaptation of an existing successful model (Mens’ Shed).

Perhaps you could start a Bible study, prior to or at the end of meetings to take the missional aspect one step further?


Neri Morris 11 months ago

Status labels added: Archived, Open Ideas/S3 - Feb20-Mar20