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Calling all Traveller Organisations- Want to know more about Men’s Sheds?

Calling all Traveller Organisations- Want to know more about Men’s Sheds?


ITM is calling on all members who are interested in looking at innovative ways of engaging Traveller Men. One model that we are interested in having a membership discussion on is Men’s Sheds.


Men’s Sheds are an exciting initiative that began in Australia that looks to create spaces for men to come together. Their motto is “Men talk shoulder to shoulder, not face to face”. Rarely are any two sheds the same (in terms of location, activities etc), but they tend to operate on the following principles:



A Men’s Shed is any community-based, non-commercial organisation which is open to all men where the primary activity is the provision of a safe, friendly and inclusive environment where the men are able to gather and/or work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time and in the company of other men and where the primary objective is to advance the health and well- being of the participating men. Men’s sheds may look like a shed in you back yard yet they innovatively share some characteristics of both community education and health promotion projects.” [from the Irish Men’s Sheds Association website]


While a Shed aims to promote health and well-being, informal learning and combating isolation, men are not engaged under those banners. In fact, in Australia, although they are Government funded under the Health budget, health is never mentioned- it is taken as a given that if you call a project a “Men’s Mental Health group” or “Men’s Education group”, no men will turn up!!! But once the men get involved, they become comfortable in their space and at their own pace, identify their needs- often including health needs!


The idea of a shed is “sold” to men as a place to come along to take part in some activities. Because it’s not a training course, the activities are open-ended- there are no deadlines. There tends to be no allowances- men are there as they see it not as somewhere they “have” to be, they are there because they want to- a Shed is a place to do things. Such as: Fix a bike. Do some carpentry. Build a wagon. Drink some tea. Play darts. It all depends on what the Men want to do. Local agencies might link in & provide tutor hours. A community development worker probably will do some outreach brining Men together. A Shed is not dependent on a lot of resources, in fact in some instances a premises can be located cheap, and cost is often not the main issue.


The Shed Movement is relatively new in Ireland, but is growing fast. The 1st discussions took place in Wexford at the end of 2010, but there are about 30 sheds across the country, with new ones popping up every week.


How can ITM members learn about what Sheds do and how to set one up?


On June 26th Clondalkin Travellers’ Men’s Shed will host a discussion. Shane O’Curry will give a tour and talk about what the Shed does, how it was set up and how it is run. John Evoy, coordinator of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association (IMSA) will talk about what Sheds are doing across the country, what impact they have had and what Ireland can learn from Australia.


Who should attend?


This meeting is for any Traveller project who wants to look at a new way of working with Traveller Men. It will be ideal to visit a Shed and get a sense of how it works- and also find out that Sheds need not be that resource intensive- some are run on very little resources- and find out what the broader Shed Movement is doing & how Traveller Men can link into that.


For more information, email Damien Walshe ( or visit the ITM website here.