The Men’s Shed Project
The concept of the Men’s Shed came about through dialogue between Meath Partnership and the Third Age Centre based on their combined experience of working with older people. It became obvious that there was a lack of social outlets in which older men engage, particularly those living alone in rural areas and that current community groups predominantly consist of women. As a result of this we looked at best practice models and projects that have been successful in engaging older men. From there we came across the Men’s Shed movement in Australia where there are now over 450 successful Men’s Sheds operating. We secured limited funding for this pilot project from Age and Opportunity through their Get Vocal Initiative for a 15 month period completing in November 2011. Often, people are under the assumption that the Men’s Sheds actually take place in a shed but this isn’t the case: they can meet anywhere. The name refers to the concept of Men’s Sheds rather than the physical space of being in a Shed. Through our consultations with Professor Barry Golding, a patron of Men's Sheds from Australia, it became apparent that men talk 'shoulder to shoulder' rather than face to face. In other words, many men find it easier to interact and disclose their experiences, issues and needs through a shared activity, and thus the Shed concept was introduced in County Meath.
The Men’s Shed provides a dedicated, friendly and welcoming meeting place for isolated older men living in rural areas to come together and undertake a variety of activities, directed by the members. We have two groups operating in Meath at present, with plans to expand our activities in 2011. One of the groups meet in the Community Centre in Summerhill on Mondays at 1.30 pm and the second group meets in the Stream Threshing Museum in Moynalty on Fridays at 10.30 am. The men have ownership of the project and since it began the members have been playing bowls, archery, cards, chess, painting, taking part in computer classes, restoring an old horse trap, restoring furniture, reading the paper and sharing stories over cups of tea. Throughout the coming months they will be getting involved in other pastimes and hobbies as well as going on trips to visit other men’s groups. Links have also been established with the Museum of Country Life in Castlebar and it is hoped that in the Autumn of this year, the Men’s Shed will display their project in the National Museum. There is no charge for becoming a member or participating in the Men’s Shed and no prior notice is required for interested participants to attend; they can just pop in, see what we have to offer, meet the members and share a cuppa and a yarn. It is advisable however to ring the project coordinator to ensure the group are meeting on the day you wish to attend.
If you require further information or would like to discussion the potential of the Men’s Shed Project contact Kay on 046 9280 790.