Stuart Barr
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5th Feb 2016

ToolShed Bucks; An Inspiring Visit

Inspired, warmed and uplifted… the way we all felt one chilly January morning after a visit from an amazing crowd of young people who make up the current ToolShed Bucks ‘family’.  The ToolShed Bucks website describes the organisation as “a social enterprise that helps young people construct meaningful lives through training, personal development, employment and business mentoring”.  In its modesty what it doesn’t add is that Toolshed Bucks are an exceptional group of young people who work hard and bring much fun and inspiration to others.  The team at StuartBarrCDR got so much from the visit…we hope they all got something out of it too.

The four strong initial ToolShed intake and the subsequent set, are clearly somewhere between a family and a college;  taking a far more holistic approach to education than most other post 16 institutions.  They came to tell us more about ToolShed, how it was set up, how it is run and the doors they are hoping it will open for them in the future.

After taking a tour of the workshops, showroom and offices, our young visitors supped hot chocolates and cups of tea whilst listening to a chat from Barr Group companies director Stuart. He told us all a bit about his 16 to 25 year old self, what motivated him to set up his companies and how hard he had to work to get them to the established.  During a ‘no holes barred’ hour Stuart shared some of the tough times, barriers and stresses along the way as well as his coping tactics. 

For anyone starting out, particularly those who have had a pretty rough ride to date, it can be good to hear how, starting from scratch, with vision, determination and hard graft, anything is possible.  Jade, one of only two girls on the program and the only lass on the visit, is an enthusiastic and gutsy five foot nothing.  Clearly engaged by Stuart’s story, Jade quickly responded “Fair play to you Stuart, well deserved!”

The ToolShed program runs for 8 months, in which the ‘ToolShedders’ spend a Level 1 learning the nitty-gritty of laboring and site clearance and Level 2 getting to grips with plumbing, plastering and decorating skills.  As kids who may not have thrived in the school environment, ToolShed provides a far more holistic approach to learning and functioning in the real world.  When asked why ToolShed is different; the response from the young people on the program was that at Tool Shed they are treated like adults, spoken to like adults and given real responsibility…their response; to repay the respect of ToolShed by working hard, learning fast and displaying an incredibly positive mental attitude.

ToolShed is the brainchild of David Lett and John Evans, co-founder of New Meaning, a social enterprise consultancy, which has become a pioneer in setting up and running projects that result in individual attitude development, community enterprise and social innovation.  Launched in April 2015, ToolShed is New Meaning's first Centre, encompassing all of the New Meaning methods and applying them in practice.

"We developed the ToolShed concept to enable young people to discover their rhythm for life by: using their initiative, confidently earning their own living, committing to the people they love and the contributing to a world they cherish." David Lett, Co-founder & Operations Director

To find about more about ToolShed Bucks click here

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