How Men's Sheds were introduced to Meath
Meath Partnership, through their community based activities became aware that community groups were predominantly comprised of women and that there was a significant lack of social outlets in which older men could engage, particularly those men living alone in rural areas. Subsequent examinations of projects and best practice models acknowledged as successful in engaging older men, encountered the Men’s Shed movement in Australia. Men's Sheds are established around some common shared interest, often activities relating to arts, crafts and technical skills, the kind of things done in the backyard shed. However, rather than working on those interests alone, they are worked on in a community shed thereby introducing social interaction among the participants that is an important part of their health and well being. According to Professor Barry Golding, a patron of Men's Sheds from Australia, men talk shoulder to shoulder rather than face to face, finding it easier to interact and disclose their experiences, issues and needs through a shared activity. Now in Australia there are many hundreds of Sheds in operation.
Recognising the potential of the Sheds in an Irish context, in 2010 Meath Partnership in collaboration with the Third Age Foundation, secured limited funding for a pilot project from Age and Opportunity through their Get Vocal Initiative and thus the Shed concept was introduced in County Meath. Following this initial phase of the project, funding has been secured through the Local Community Development Programme.
So what is Men's Sheds?
Men’s Shed projects provides dedicated, friendly and welcoming meeting places for potentially isolated men living in rural areas, enabling them to come together and undertake a variety of member directed activities. Meetings are held weekly in Men's Sheds in Athboy, Broomfield, Dunshaughlin, Moynalty, Navan and Summerhill. The men themselves, the members of the Shed, have ownership of the project and they engage in a wide range of activities. The pastimes and hobbies are too numerous to mention, but to mention a few, since Men's Sheds began, members have been playing bowls, cards and chess; they've been practicing archery,painting, taking part in computer classes; there's been much activity around restoring a variety of old transport and farm equipment and furniture, and trips are organised and other Sheds are visited. Occasionally members take a break and just read the paper or share stories over cups of tea. Often, people are under the assumption that the Men’s Sheds take place in an actual shed but this isn’t always 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.
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; just drop in, see what's on 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, if you would like to establish a Men's Shed or if you would like to discuss the Men's Shed Project, email Kay at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 046 9280790.