For people with anxiety
Anxiety is common in our community, so you are not alone. We do our best to make sure Shed meetings and events are relaxed, friendly and open to everyone.
You can participate as much or as little as you like at any of our meetings. You can leave whenever you want to. You're welcome no matter how you identify, what you look like, or what challenges you may be facing.
What you can expect from our regular meetings
When you arrive at the meeting location, there are glass front doors which are closed. We have people on hand to open the door manually when you arrive. There is also a phone number written on a sign on the door that we use as a doorbell - if there is no one at the door, you call the phone number. We don't answer it, we just come and open the door. If you are anxious about arriving and coming in, we can arrange for someone to wait outside and meet you there.
Before the meeting starts
When you come in, we have a table set up where you sign in and write your name and pronouns on a sticky label to wear. You don't have to use your legal name or show any ID. You can choose any pronouns you are comfortable with, or any you'd like to try out. We won't judge you on your appearance or tell you you can't use your chosen name or pronouns.
We have tea and coffee set up in the meeting room, and usually we have biscuits, cake or something to snack on. We have milk and non-dairy alternatives for the tea and coffee. These are free and you can help yourself. You can bring something if you'd like to, but you don't have to.
We spend a few minutes getting tea and coffee, and having an informal chat. It's ok to just say hello to people - we are a friendly bunch and everyone is welcome to talk to anyone else. You can also find a committee member and say hi, chances are we'll know you are a first timer and we can introduce you to people. If you don't want to chat, you can take a seat and wait for the meeting to start.
How the meeting runs
We usually have around 10 - 15 people at our meetings. When we start the meeting, we usually do a round of introduction with our name and pronouns. You don't have to take part if you don't feel comfortable - just say "pass" or something like that and we will carry on.
We will do an acknowledgement of country and an overview of the code of conduct and then introduce the theme of the meeting. Speakers from the group will talk about the theme - usually in an informal way. Anyone can ask questions or speak from their experience.
Sometimes we will also have an activity, for example when the meeting theme was shaving we had shaving stations set up so that anyone could give it a try after the group discussion. It will be set up so that you can participate when you like, and you don't have to get up in front of anyone to take part. You don't have to take part if you don't want to.
When we wrap up
When we finish the meeting, people sometimes get another tea or coffee, and hang around having an informal chat. You can stay and talk or head off whenever it suits you.
If you're feeling overwhelmed
You can take a break and leave the room whenever you like. You don't have to ask to go out of the room or out of the building. Bear in mind if you leave the building you may need to knock on the outer doors to come back in, so we recommend you let someone know you're going outside for a bit, or take your phone so you can call our doorbell number.
You can leave the meeting at any point. No one will be angry, annoyed or judge you if you want to leave early. To exit the building, there is a large green button on the right hand side of the main doors - press the button to open the doors.
Taking part in meetings
During our meetings, you can participate as much or as little as you'd like. Our meetings are very laid back, and you don't have to take part in anything that doesn't feel right for you. We don't do things that would make most people uncomfortable like:
you don't need to stand up in front of the group
you don't need to speak to the group alone (unless you choose to)
we don't do things like picking teams or getting others to pick teams
you don't need to take part in small talk or unstructured discussion (unless you choose to)
we don't generally run extraverted activities like charades, miming (and if we did, you wouldn't have to take part)
you don't need to touch or make eye contact with others
Support to come for the first time
We can help support you if you would like to come along for the first time and you're feeling anxious. If you know what kind of help you need, please let us know. We can do things like:
meet you at the door and come in with you
introduce you to people or stay with you during the meeting
meet with you socially for a coffee and a chat at another time
Toilets and facilities
There are two gender neutral toilets in the building. One is fully accessible, the other has two single stalls in a restroom. They are located straight ahead of the main doors, on the ground floor.
If you have any more ideas or suggestions of ways we can better support people with anxiety, please email us at email@example.com.