Men’s Sheds begin to lift lockdown

After four months of lockdown, communities throughout Ireland are being boosted by the return of their Men’s Sheds.

The Irish Men’s Sheds Association (IMSA) has issued detailed guidelines on safe-as-possible reopening to Ireland’s 450 Men’s Sheds.

With the support of the IMSA and their communities, dozens of sheds have already reopened.

“The word we’ve been drumming home is safety,” says IMSA CEO Barry Sheridan.

“We’ve said that sheds shouldn’t even consider reopening until they can satisfy a range of criteria around social distancing and other factors.

“Sheds have been missed, not just by their members, but by their communities, and they have worked wonders to try to get back up and running as safely as possible.”

Sheds reopening since the end of June include Dundalk Men’s Shed, whose chairman, Peter O’Neill, said: “We’ve been working closely with the IMSA on the reopening and without their support, we couldn’t have managed it.”

Shed treasurer, Brian Byrne, added: “We have installed new seat and floor coverings; hand sanitisers and new lighting have been installed, face shields will be provided for members, and numbers will be restricted until further notice. Kitchen facilities will be restricted for now.”

Mr O’Neill said: “Nobody wants to see a spike in Covid-19 that will force everything to be tightened up again, so the only way we can remain open is for everybody to follow the guidelines.”

Barry Sheridan echoed the theme of social responsibility. “No shed should feel they have to reopen until they’re good and ready and able to comply with the guidelines,” he said.

“Likewise, no shedder should feel they have to return to the shed until they’re comfortable in themselves, particularly if they’re in one of the most vulnerable groups.”

For many members, the absence of the shed has left a gap in their lives, but sheds have shown extraordinary resilience and inventiveness in keeping members connected during the lockdown period.

Irish Men’s Sheds Association

Founded in 2011, the Irish Men’s Sheds Association oversees a network of 460 Men’s Sheds throughout the island of Ireland. Men’s Sheds are community spaces which allow men to socialise together, share skills and work on projects of benefit to their communities.

(Photo at top) National Volunteer co-ordinator Eva Beirne with members of the Dundalk Men’s Shed.

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