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Case Study: Men’s Sheds

Case Study: Men's Sheds
We grant aided the Men’s Shed because it was money that was going to be very, very well spent. Age Friendly sort of kicked her all off for us, opened our eyes to a large group of people looking for something to do. My mother died, and my brother died, and you come over here, you can talk. And you get it out of your head. My wife suffers from dementia. I couldn’t find a better way of breaking than coming here to relax and do some work. The lads, you have a bit of craic. You don’t have to do any work if you don’t want to. Listen to the banter. East Wall has very little green space. We approached the local church.
They had two large areas. I asked them, would they be prepared to facilitate us putting in a civic park. We were knocking on an open door. We are all gaining healthwise. You see the activities going on around here. It’s absolutely fantastic. Through our grants, we’ve got a cabin here that you see on the right hand side. We’ve a little potting shed at the end of that. Now I’m going on 81 years of age now. And where could I spend a better afternoon or morning than sitting here? It’s heaven on Earth. The lads can come out every day. You don’t have to do anything. If I hadn’t have got this, I’d have been sitting at home watching the box.
And I wouldn’t have been as healthy as I am now. The impact on the community was, I think, quite extraordinary. There’s benches there for the older people to sit down, maybe after mass. Share thoughts, laughs. It’s being developed by the local community for the local community. We have a games room for the men. We have an afternoon drop in for the senior ladies. And we do a lot of day trips. Well I am 95, and I love coming here. It’s not only the snooker and pool we play it is all the sport that we have in the place. There’s a lot of games. It’s great for the old folks here. I’m 86. Been coming here, what? Eight years now.
And I like it. Got to be with the lads. It gets me out of the house. Not having any wife at home now, living alone. So it gets very lonely. But we go on trips. So they look after us well here. Looked at some derelict sites, locally. Try and have a system that worked across the board. We put all barrows around the area. So we knocked at the door and said to the people that the barrow was going. That’s yours. If you don’t service it, it will be taken away and put somewhere else. So they are all watering it now you know? The Age Friendly programme has given us access to the decision makers.
It’s created a forum whereby local community groups can talk at a one-to-one level with members of Dublin City Council, the HSE, or An Garda Siochana and things tend to happen a lot faster when you have that connection. What we have suggested to Dublin City Council and the planners that at the time of developers applying for planning permission, that they try and build in the Age Friendly ideas into the planning process. To upgrade the area and make the area far more age friendly. Because the whole idea is to make older persons feel that they can stay and remain productive parts of the community. If we do that, economically it’ll be more beneficial.
For the people themselves, they can live in their community rather than having to go into protective housing or nursing homes.

“Men don’t talk face to face; they talk shoulder to shoulder”

This video highlights a Men’s Shed that engaged with the Age Friendly Ireland programme in East Wall, Dublin, and how it makes a difference not only to its members but to the wider community.

A Men’s Shed is any community-based, non-commercial organisation which is open to all men where the primary activity is the provision of a safe, friendly and inclusive environment enabling men to gather and/or work on meaningful projects at their own pace and in the company of others. The primary objective is to advance the health and wellbeing of the participating men.

  • Men’s sheds may look like a shed in your back yard, yet they share some characteristics of both community education centers and health promotion projects.

Some men are reluctant to talk about their emotions and that means that they may not ask for help. Possibly because of this, many men are less healthy than women; they can drink more, take more risks, and they can suffer more from isolation, loneliness and depression.

Good health is based on many factors including feeling good about yourself, being productive, and feeling valued by your community. Having a sense of purpose and contributing to your community are particularly important. Connecting with friends and maintaining an active body and an active mind are also key to a successful ageing experience.

Becoming a member of a Community Men’s Shed gives a man a safe and busy environment where he can find many of these things in an atmosphere of friendship. Most importantly, there is no pressure. Men can visit, have a chat, and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee if that is what they’re looking for.

Members of Men’s Sheds come from all walks of life and the bond that unites them is that they are men with time on their hands, and they would like something meaningful to do with that time. The Men’s Shed movement is a powerful tool in helping men to find their community.

The Irish Men’s Sheds Association was set up in January 2011 to support the development and sustainability of Men’s Sheds in Ireland. However, Men’s Sheds can be found around the world, including locations in Australia, the United Kingdom, and several other European countries.

  • Do you know of any Men’s Sheds in your community? If not, do you have any similar organisations?
  • Why do you think an initiative like this is important for men?
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