We all have people we’re close to. Siblings, cousins, friends. We might have friends we’ve known for so long they’ve become family. But despite the close connection we might not necessarily have much in common in terms of hobbies and interests.
I love my sister and my niece with all my heart, they’re among my favourite people to socialise with. But I don’t understand their love of reality TV. And I’m fairly sure they look at my lounge walls covered in Spider-Man comics with a bemusement bordering on horror.
When I was a kid I didn’t really fit in at school. I had little in common with my class mates, and spent most of my break times alone reading a book. It’s only recently that I’ve realised I made the choice to be alone, because I wasn’t interested in my classmates. On the occasions I tried to fit in, I felt uncomfortable and didn’t enjoy taking part in their games and activities.
But I was lonely. And I grew up believing I was weird, stupid and unlikeable. And that stayed with me into adulthood.
For kids like me, university is the first place you find yourself surrounded by people who share your interests. But that’s a long time to have to wait to find your people.
When I started Little Sandbox, it was to provide an environment for nerdy kids to gather and learn and have the freedom to pursue their interests. It was as much about the social aspect as it was about education.
And the feedback we get from kids and parents always includes references to confidence, feeling safe, belonging, and making friends.
Kids need places they can be themselves, where they can do stuff they love with people who understand them. Where they don’t feel judged. Where they can be proud of who they are and what they’re doing.
And so do adults. I’m quite socially anxious. I hate going in to places I’ve never been. I hate meeting new people. I don’t even like making phone calls. And it occurred to me that I’m probably not the only adult that feels this way. So I thought maybe there’s room for a Big Sandbox. A tech club for adults.
And then I discovered makerspaces.
Against all my usual instincts (and after months of putting it off ) I eventually went along to a Maker nights at DoES Liverpool. I didn’t make anything, I just wanted to see what went on there.
And what I found was my people.
I’ve been back a few times, sometimes I make stuff but mostly I just go to hang out. I like being around people that make stuff, I like talking about tech and just feeling like I’m around people that get me.
So that’s why at Little Sandbox we’re developing a makerspace in Norris Green Library – to grow the makerspace community so more adults like me, can find their people.