Opinion: Why we should learn skills to Do It Yourself!

Graham Storer
Graham Storer

Where did DIY come from? The phrase was commonplace in the 50s when DIY became a movement after WW2.

When I was a lad, a neighbour subscribed to a monthly DIY magazine.

Fascinating to me. My Dad consulted the “library” when he undertook a DIY kitchen refit helped by me! No ready-made carcasses, just 2”x1” laths with painted hardboard.

Real satisfaction in doing!

Austerity eased somewhat, but the march of DIY continued with stores popping-up to feed the frenzy with new materials, systems and “pro” tools.

“You can do it!” the industry proclaimed.

Well, some could, but some couldn’t! Skilled tradesmen did not lose out as the business of DIY SOS developed, correcting the efforts of could-nots.

In came fashion, and for some people, kitchen and bathroom refits became a regular routine, chosen from glossy catalogues.

Factory, robot-made components and special fixings turned cabinet makers into installers and adapters. DIYers with competence could do it too, of course!

MFI flat-pack furniture was launched, and with it “flat pack frustration”.

The skills to “make” and the satisfaction of “making” were being lost, no longer passed to the next generation as my Dad did to me.

How many schools do woodwork, metalwork and cooking nowadays? The old home-making skills.

Kids can easily miss learning how to solve practical situations like wiring a plug. No need for that, of course, plugs come ready moulded to white goods these days.

Scouts nurture practical skills and inventiveness.

I’ve seen that at Whitby Scouts recently. Aren’t there risks? Yes.

Not big ones, but they are there thank goodness. How else will kids acquire judgment concerning personal safety if they never face small risks and make mistakes through which to learn?

I have the view “he/she who never made a mistake, never made anything”.

Decline of DIY may also have penetrated the community sector. Responsibility for neighbourly care-taking became subsumed by “Services”. Fine, but general community services are not so readily available except in cases of acute need.

However, those responsible for services will often now support and encourage voluntary initiatives from local communities.

We (you and I) must learn, rediscover and recreate the art of caring about, and for, our community neighbours we may well not know.

They need it and so do/may we! Therefore, my call to arms is for Community DIY!

Dig, turn, crochet, sing or whatever, together, for victory.

Rediscover the satisfaction of making community.

On Tuesday (Nov 14) at Eskmouth Scout Hall behind Bagdale Lodge on Spring Hill there will be an event, Do It! Hosted by the Totally Socially enabling project, Do It! invites voluntary groups to show what they do by doing it!

Please come along, see the possibilities of Do It Yourself.