The Share Shack in Ladywood is a space where local people can share skills, borrow useful items, learn and connect.
Christina describes how she creates a welcoming environment where people can re-discover, practice and share their skills. With an emphasis on enjoyment and learning, Christina sees co-design and co-delivery as enabling people to ‘have a go.’
Tell us about a time you co-created with people
We have a volunteer that started using the Share Shack. He came in for the memory art sessions. He used to be a school teacher. Through coming to that one workshop, his confidence, his relationships and connection with the Shake Shack has really increased.
As a result of that, he’s decided to volunteer at the Share Shack. He wanted to use skills that he already had to run a workshop. Something he was interested in and he could deliver really well, but also something that the community would actually be interested in. So a lot of people want to reuse items and don’t like to throw stuff away. And of course, there’s a lot of swapping and sharing of items in the Share Shack.
So we sat down together and worked through an activity plan of a workshop he could deliver that would meet all of those needs.
In the end, it developed into the upcycling workshop, which now runs here on a weekly basis. It has 6 members, and each person has been given a small piece of wooden palette and then it’s up to them to design and work out what they’re going make out of that piece. Each person’s made it into something completely different.
What steps do you take to co-create with people?
Everyone welcome It takes a lot of guts just to walk in if you’re on your own, especiallyif there’s a room full of people. So, if we see somebody looking in, a bit hesitant, I’ll go to the front door, have a little chat with them first and just say, “do youwant to come in and have a cup of tea and hang out and see what we’re about?”.
It’s about encouragement, being welcoming and making people feel relaxed so that they feel that they can join in with what’s taking place and be more involved.
Spotting skills and making connections It’s about empowering the individuals involved , showing people they’ve got skills that are of value and that are useful and that people are interested in sharing and learning. We connect skills and interests, so the sharing feels meaningful for everyone.
Keeping it friendly and informal If you just said to somebody, you’re going to lead a workshop, they might think of it a formal presentation which might be a bit more intimidating. Instead, we keep it friendly and relaxed, so that someone who might come in feeling shy, can end up first playing table tennis and then giving tips to others.
Permission to learn and practice We say it’s fine, just have a go. We’re all learning. It’s just practise. We all get stuck in and have a go and if we make mistakes or get it wrong, it doesn’t matter, it’s fine. We’re enjoying the space and what takes place here.
What difference do you think it makes?
Building confidence, feeling capable
So it’s about showing people that they can achieve things. Someone might come here and be a little quiet at the beginning, but through engaging with the other people in the Share Shack and with staff and volunteers, their confidence grows. They become more involved. They get more of a sense of ownership of the space and what takes place here.
Choose your own adventure
I think what we co-create here can be a stepping stone for people. We empower people to come in, take part and then hopefully move on and achieve more for themselves.
So like with Joe, who has created art in the Share Shack, he’s hoping to exhibit his work. We can showcase what people are doing here, and they can hopefully make a future for themselves out of what happens here.