They say there’s nothing quite as powerful as an idea whose time has come. During the recession, when we were setting out on this journey, men in Ireland were more likely to be unemployed than women. They were more likely to die by suicide and other preventable illnesses. Men were also less likely to talk about their problems or to seek help. I was in Australia and learned about the Men’s Sheds movement there. The idea behind it is simple, but wonderful. A Men’s Shed is a place where all men, regardless of age, background, or ability are respected, valued and belong. They can share and learn skills or just have a cup of tea. Each shed has the common goal of advancing the health and wellbeing of its members. I knew it could have a huge impact in Ireland. We began with one shed. When I got the call to say we had been selected for the Impact Award, I knew it was going to make all the difference. The support from SEI was instrumental in turning this from an idea into a reality.
“I found a leaflet about the Men’s Shed so I popped in and I’ve been here since. It was only me and my wife at home in the house so I got bored and wanted something to do,”
men using Men’s Sheds every week
The Idea and the Impact
The recession in Ireland brought with it some monumental changes for Irish society; increased unemployment, rising personal debt, historic levels of emigration and reduced living standards. All of these problems individually would be daunting but together they have inflicted a heavy blow to the Irish psyche. While we all recognise that talking about these problems is important, Irish men are often reluctant to discuss their emotions and are rarely willing to ask for help. All of this can lead to a serious deterioration in health, well-being, and an individual’s sense of self-worth, leaving many men feeling isolated and alone.
Determined to find a way to support this emerging group, John Evoy travelled to Australia and experienced first-hand the transformative power of men’s community involvement through the Men’s Sheds initiative. Having made the decision to bring this idea back home, John established the Irish Men’s Sheds Association (IMSA) in 2011. A Men’s Shed is considered to be any community based, non-commercial organisation that is accessible to all men. The Sheds are a place for men to socialise and interact with each other and each Shed has the common goal of advancing the health and well-being of its members. By incorporating a values system and ethos that ensures the development of inclusive and sustainable community resources, the IMSA was established to support the setup, running and maintenance of a voluntary network of Men’s Sheds around the country.
"We began with one shed. When I got the call to say we had been selected for the Impact Award, I knew it was going to make all the difference. The support from SEI was instrumental in turning this from an idea into a reality"
Grown to 400 Sheds throughout Ireland
10,000 men using Men’s Sheds every week
84% of men report improved sense of wellbeing
97% feel that as a result of participating in Men’s Sheds they can give back to their community