‘Men’s Shed’ provides a dedicated, friendly and welcoming meeting place for older men to come together and undertake a variety of mutually agreed activities, such as woodwork, metalwork, photography, card-playing, darts, bowls, other hobbies or pastimes. The men will have ownership of the project and will decide their own programme.
Initiated by Meath Partnership in collaboration with the Third Age Centre in Summerhill, the project aims to provide a social outlet for older men in the community, beginning in Summerhill and Moynalty.
Meath Partnership was established to implement rural, economic development and social programmes at local level across County Meath. Third Age is a voluntary community organisation with national and local programmes which support local communities by demonstrating the resource that older people represent.
Men’s Shed project is funded by Age & Opportunity through their Get Vocal initiative which is designed to strengthen the voice of older people.
Third Age chairperson Mary Nally said: “As an organisation, we have long been aware of the need for specific initiatives to engage older men in the community. Our Senior Help Line, now in its 12th year, receives daily calls from older men who are leading very lonely lives. For a variety of reasons, many find it difficult to interact with their local community.”
She added: “Some years ago, we took part in a forum in Aras an Uachtarain, hosted by President Mary McAleese, which looked at ‘Encouraging the Social Engagement of Older Men in our Communities’. The forum allowed us to hear the voices of older men across Ireland and to discuss helpful responses to the problem of male loneliness.”
Both Meath Partnership and the Third Age have been gratified at the immediate response there has been to the Men’s Shed project. “From a series of initial meetings, we found there was a great interest in the idea in both locations. We were delighted to see so many men attending meetings to find out more about the project. We were especially pleased that some were men who usually don’t get involved in community-based activities. We feel this project, with an all-male environment, with the opportunity for friendship, learning, skills exchange, chat and reminiscence is one that has been long needed,” added Ms Nally.
The Men’s Shed co-ordinator is Kay O’Connor, whose role is to facilitate the development of the project. The first Shed gatherings with a variety of activities on offer began in the first week in November in the Community Centre, Summerhill, and the Steam Threshing Museum, Moynalty.
Published: Wednesday, 17th November, 2010 4:47pm by Noelle Finegan in The Meath Chronicle