Councillor behind SheSheds inspired by Springhead heroine Annie Kenney

AN ENTERPRISING woman behind a scheme to invade the male’s sacred DIY domain admits she was spurred on by her local heroine Annie Kenney.

Barbara Beeley, a Saddleworth Parish Councillor, comes from Springhead which was the home of the leading suffragette.

Cllr Barbara Beeley

Annie, one of twelve children, was a beacon in the Women’s Social and Political Union and campaigns on issues surrounding votes for women.

Now, Cllr Beeley has taken a more diplomatic stance by launching SheSheds to help teach and encourage 21st century women how to tackle a range of home projects.

The scheme – thought to be the UK’s first ladies-only DIY course – launches this week in Springhead for eight weeks.

Cllr Beeley and Christine Wilson, Saddleworth and Lees community development officer, approached Age UK Oldham with the concept after seeing the success of Men in Sheds.

Men in Sheds, based in Greenfield, aims to keep older men active and involved in community to improve their health and wellbeing by offering weekly handiwork sessions.

Cllr Beeley explained: “I and the District team worked with AgeUK to launch Men in Sheds. The scheme aimed to reach out to men in danger of becoming isolated from society.

“I had the honour of cutting the ribbon at the official launch and the project has gone from strength to strength and has moved to larger premises in the area.

“But once It was successfully established I asked: “what are you going to do for the ladies?”

“The response was nothing as apparently today’s women are much more likely to go out and get involved in classes and societies.

“But this was not good enough an answer for someone who lives in the village where Annie Kenney was born and raised and lists her as one of her heroines.”

Cllr Beeley said after discussions with AgeUK Oldham and the District Partnership team SheSheds was born.

She said: “It’s said a woman’s handbag is equivalent of a man’s shed – but in this case women are going to raid the shed and borrow the tools.

“In return we have offered to teach the men to iron and sew on buttons – equality rules!”

Initially, the course will teach women how to stop dripping taps, use basic tools and make items including bird boxes and work on garden projects.

It will be run by Age UK Oldham staff on Wednesday, April 13 from at Springhead Community Centre, Ashes Lane, Springhead, weekly for eight weeks.

One of the first to register Joan Sykes, chair of Scouthead and Austerlands Community Group, said: “I can change a plug – but I’m clueless about basic DIY. I think this course will be instructive and informative.

“If the rest of the ladies have the same amount of knowledge (or lack of) and dexterity in using tools as I have then this may prove a challenge!”

SheSheds will cost £3 a head per session, including refreshments.  To book call:  01616520930 or 01617708416 or email:

Men in Sheds meet on Thursdays and Fridays from 9am-4pm. If you or someone you know would like to take part in our Men in Sheds project, contact Dave Freear: 0161 682 4747.


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