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  • Northside East

Local men’s shed having a positive impact in the community

Thursday, 14th December, 2017 1:00pm
Local men’s  shed having a positive impact in the community

Noel Bennett working on a mural at the Men’s Shed in North Strand. ALL PHOTOS: DARREN KINSELLA

Local men’s  shed having a positive impact in the community

Noel Bennett working on a mural at the Men’s Shed in North Strand. ALL PHOTOS: DARREN KINSELLA

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Orla O’Driscoll

MEN’S sheds are an idea conceived to address a need specific to men. Said to alleviate isolation for their users, they are overwhelmingly viewed as having a positive impact on men’s mental health. 

And now, the same can apply to women, as one shed in north inner city Dublin welcomes both sexes to use their facility.

Situated to the rear of the Crosscare complex on Portland Row, ‘The Shed’, which opened in July, now welcomes women too.  

Matthew Travers, a shed member and the health and safety officer, says: “We do the same stuff whether there is a woman here or not. We don’t discriminate, they are welcome to come in and do the same things we do.”

For him the shed in the community made a vast difference. 

“I was homeless and if I had known about one of these places then, I probably would have been in one a lot sooner. It’s been fantastic for me,” says Matthew. 

Ben Stapleton, a Crosscare worker, explains: “People using it will eventually take over. They don’t have to do work for the community, you can do a project or whatever you fancy. 

“There is no set rule. People generally help each other out. I come in and just do my bits and pieces, I am a staff member, but I am using it as the shed.”

For some, sheds offer a sense of reason or routine. For others, they have nothing without the service.

Philip Quigley uses the shed to fill the long hours of boredom. 

“I was on the sewing machine on Tuesday, but it didn’t work out,” he says. 

“It took me hours to sew a pair of bottoms, Louis Copeland is safe, I won’t be after his job.” 

Philip came home to Ireland from the Philippines a year ago. 

“I had to sort out my pension,” he says. “But when I got home they told me I could have done it all online. I was supposed to stay with a friend, but that didn’t materialise so I ended up homeless.”

Philip says there are many women who could use the shed.

“A lot of women in the hostels have to be out by 10 in the morning till six at night,” he adds. 

“They have nothing to do, no place to go. I tell them to come here.”

Men’s Sheds began in Australia in the 1990s and there are now over 400 sheds across Ireland.

The shed offers a phenomenal sense of comradeship, a sense of creating habitual routines, and a feeling of being made welcome, regardless of gender.

Ben Stapleton notes the possibilities.

“We can give back to the community,” he says. “Refurbish furniture for people who are transitioning from homelessness back into housing.

“We are kind of hoping that there will be women who come down and teach us some things, it would be nice to see something like that.” says Matthew Travers.

Members of the opposite sex are welcome here, and will be just one of the lads. 

The clear message from this shed is: the more the merrier!

Noel McKenna working on bird houses at the men’s shed. Matthew Travers wth a coat hanger that he made from forks.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here