Irish Men’s Sheds Association backs Minister Butler’s calls for September reopening of community groups
The Irish Men’s Sheds Association welcomes the recent call from Minister for Older People and Mental Health Mary Butler for sheds to be allowed reopen. As the Minister’s rightly said in her comments to the Taoiseach, community groups like men’s sheds are “anxious” to return. We as an organisation are also anxious for our members, especially given the effect that the prolonged closure of our sheds is having on their mental health. The severity of this has already been proven by IMSA research
Our study on the impact that COVID-19 has had on shed members found that men who fell into an at-risk lonely category prior to shed closures was at 1.2%. Since the sheds have closed, that has skyrocketed to 39.2%. This grim statistic highlights the need for our sheds to reopen, to combat social isolation among Ireland’s most vulnerable men. Enda Egan, CEO of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, says these figures are extremely worrying, and should serve as a call to action. “Sheds play a central role in promoting and safeguarding the wellbeing of men, in both rural and urban communities” he explained. “There is no doubt that men need an outlet, a secure place to go, to be active, to chat and to meet each other as equals. The harsh impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means that such an outlet has never been more critical to protect Irish men from loneliness and isolation”.
Minister Butler’s comments come as the vast majority of IMSA members are now fully vaccinated, and have been for many months. They have taken every precaution necessary to protect both themselves and their shedmates from COVID-19, and so many of these men feel that the time to return to their sheds is long overdue. Many of the vaccinated shedders are particularly baffled by the fact that they can now gather indoors at a pub or restaurant, even on an airplane, but not in their beloved sheds.
The IMSA greatly hopes that Minister Butler’s calls for a full reopening of sheds in September will be answered by Government, and that confirmation of an exact date for the sanctioned return to sheds will be issued as a matter of urgency.