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Women spread their wings at DIY group

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By Fiona Reid
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Women spread their wings at DIY group

TUCKED away in an unassuming shack next to the old church depot in Moffat, an unlikely group of friends are planning their next projects.

The Bird Box Community Workshop are a women centric DIY group encouraging each other to take up tools and create.

Since setting up shop last February, the group have been pooling their tools and materials to make and create.

At first they were a sub-group of the town’s Men’s Shed, but they have since gone out on their own and now they have their own space, courtesy of Space to Grow Moffat, where they are beholden only to themselves.

Ever since they spread their wings the ladies of the Bird Box have been hard at work and have made a name for themselves thanks to their crafts-womanship and colourful, whimsical fairy doors and bird boxes.

It’s run under the leadership of Anne Muir, who as an engineer by trade offers both her expertise and encouragement to the workshop members. Speaking about the value of the group, Anne said: “It promotes social inclusivity, combats loneliness, improves the physical and mental health of our members but also female independence.

“A lot of girls have never handled tools, have never made anything and I hate to see people not able to do stuff because they’ve never been taught.”

CUT ABOVE THE REST . . . Dawn Merchant and ‘Woody’

In addition to Anne there is Barry Muir, who the group lovingly refer to as ‘Woody’, and Jimmy Forskit, who shows them how to handle the tools. As Heather explained: “Woody coaches us into best practice. He’s already given us so much confidence, because when we first started some of us wouldn’t go near some of the equipment.

“He keeps us on the straight and narrow, especially me who can’t cut a straight line.”

Woody has been a part of the Bird Box since it started and has seen improvement and growth in the members. He said: “It’s no good coming in and sheltering people. When Dawn first started coming along she wouldn’t say boo to a goose but she’s kept coming and now she’s come right out of her shell.”

For many members, being a part of the Bird Box is the first experience they’ve had handling tools and it has helped them become more independent, but it has also helped them rebuild their confidence following the pandemic.

Dawn Merchant had moved to Moffat only months before the start of covid. After restrictions eased she struggled to find her place in the community. She said: “Before I joined the Bird Box I didn’t really know anyone in Moffat, I’d been here a while but then covid hit and I live out of the town so I never saw anybody and I’d worked at the same place all my life so to move up here and know nobody, I had no confidence whatsoever.

“Even coming through the door for the first time was absolutely terrifying for me and I was so close to not doing it, I’m pleased I did obviously because it made me take the first step in finding my place in Moffat, and if I hadn’t done it I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go and do the other things that I do outside of the Bird Box, because it gave me a group of friends that I would never have met otherwise, because we’ve got very different lives and backgrounds.”

Dawn is now one of the driving forces of the group, and has purchased her own power tools to use outside of the workshop.

As a new year starts, the Bird Box members are looking forward to a raft of new projects and maybe even some new members.

Find them on Facebook.

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