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‘Sheds For Life’ Initiative Launched In Belmont Men’s Shed

Thursday, 1 June 2017

‘Sheds For Life’ Initiative Launched In Belmont Men’s Shed thumbnailBelmont Men’s Shed members pictured with Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD on Monday last where she launched the Irish Men’s Sheds Association’s ‘Sheds for Life’ initiative

A MAJOR breakthrough for the men's sheds movement in Ireland was launched with the unveiling of the Irish Men's Sheds Association's 'Sheds for Life' initiative in Belmont this week.
 The 'Sheds for Life' initiative focuses on improving the health and well-being of the estimated 10,000 'shedders' involved in 383 men's sheds around the country. The 'shedders' initiative was launched by Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy at the Belmont Men's Shed, based in the picturesque Belmont Mills, on Monday last.
 Welcoming everyone to the event, Irish Men's Sheds Association CEO, Barry Sheridan enthused it was a 'big moment' for the Association. 'It's a real opportunity for us to grow on the impact the sheds have had on all our lives, at an individual level, at a shed level and also at national level. We are bringing the health and well-being of men to the fore. We remember the impact that it's having not just on ourselves but also on your family and your community that you are operating in.'
 Mr Sheridan maintained the Men's Sheds movement was a 'really powerful tool'. 'Sometimes the best ideas are the simple ones and men's sheds is a very simple concept and it works. What we are now trying to do is to enhance the health and well-being of all shed members. There is no other organisation like it. We are completely unique and we are having a huge impact not just on the men but also on the families and the communities throughout the whole island.'
 George Kelly, Chairperson of the Irish Men's Sheds Association, himself a 'shedder' in Killarney, was delighted to speak, having been involved in sheds from day one. 'It's hard to imagine that six years ago that nobody in Ireland understood what the men's shed were about. It's a simple idea and has become such a phenomenon over a short few years and it's make such a difference to people.'
The Irish Men's Shed Association was founded in 2011, based on a concept originally pioneered in Australia in the 1990s. Men's Sheds are autonomous, member-run spaces in which men can share and learn skills, socialise with other men and carry out projects and programmes for their local communities. According to Mr Kelly, the reason for its success in Ireland was 'mainly due to our culture, the community and the friendships that we are so proud to foster. I always compare the men's sheds with the pub with no beer. And, one thing that I always find is within the sheds is that people are all equal, and equally valued and barriers can be broken down under these circumstances.'
Noting men having a 'tradition of finding it difficult to communicate in particular about their health', the Association Chairperson believed the sheds give men the 'space to discuss it and deal with the issues' relating to their health. 'I have no doubt the launch here will play a huge part in the health of men right throughout the country going forward,' he added.
Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator, Edel Byrne, who has overall responsibility for 'Sheds for Life' initiative, explained the concept of men's sheds 'came out of men gathering together in support of informal environments, leaving their preconceptions at the door and sharing their skills and stories'. One of the great benefits of men's sheds has been the positive effects they have had on men's health and wellbeing, who attend the sheds. According to Ms Byrne, two of the most comprehensive surveys done on men's sheds in Ireland revealed a 'remarkable statistic' - 90% of all 'shedders' believe attending a men's shed improves their health and well-being.
'Many of our shedders grew up in a society, which had very particular ideas of how a man should think, feel and act. The sheds provide a very different environment from the work place, from the home place, and from the pub, where men can simply be themselves and there's no expectations or social pressures. Lifting those burdens has opened the doors to better physical and emotional well -being.' Ms Byrne went on to acknowledge the many partners working with the Men's Sheds Association including the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Government. 'Sheds exist all over the world but this level of Government recognition and support is unique to Ireland,' she continued.
'Sheds for Life is only possible because shedders themselves have created the conditions for it to flourish and take root. This is very much their initiative and collaborating and ensuring that sheds retain ownership and input into this initiative is our key focus throughout. These are exciting times for men's sheds and the promotion of men's health in Ireland. I would like to leave you with one final thought for the day. "Sheds for Life" will change the lives of thousands of men across Ireland and thank you for being part of it.'  
 Fergal Fox, of the HSE, congratulated everyone involved in the initiative and was delighted that the HSE was working in partnership with the Association on this. 'Men are a key target group for mental health organisations and when you see a grass roots organisation such as this taking a very from the bottom up approach in promoting men's health and well-being, then we all want to celebrate it,' he said.
 Launching the initiative, Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy described the 'Sheds for Life' project as a 'fantastic initiative' before saying that it was a priority for the Government and herself that the men's sheds would continue to receive support. 'This is a fantastic opportunity for men to socialise together and to learn from each other,' the Minister continued, adding that everyone needed to 'encourage men to look after their health and well-being'.
The Fine Gael Junior Minister congratulated all involved and pointed out that the message behind the 'Sheds for Life' initiative was simple. 'The message behind the sheds is that better health will start in men's sheds in every village, town and county in Ireland where they are based. The HSE and the Government are really committed to this and looking at the long term sustainability of this initiative.' The Minister then went on to officially launch the 'Sheds for Life' initiative, thanking everyone involved in the project while assuring everyone that the initiative will continue to go 'from strength to strength'.
 Concluding, Mr Sheridan said Men's sheds gave men an opportunity to be part of where they are from. 'They bring people together that perhaps weren't very well connected before. Sometimes we lose touch with our own identity and our sense of community and the role of community in the development of our society as a whole is very important. Men's sheds have a role to play in that as well. I think if we continue to drive this one and focus on each other and our community, men's sheds and Irish society as a whole will be a much better place.' A small presentation was then made to Minister Corcoran Kennedy of a beautiful piece from a men's shed in Galway. 

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