Why I Decided to Start a Men’s Shed-Andrew Swaine

I’m a married father of two, Irish by birth but lived in England for 17 years. I returned to Ireland in 2000 and for 14 years concentrated on my career, but in 2014 I had the opportunity to stop what I was doing, take stock of my situation, and reassess my priorities. I started to focus on spending more time with my family, doing stuff that really mattered like reading bedtime stories and going for picnics in the Wicklow mountains. I also started to look for some way of contributing to my community, and having heard of the Men’s Shed organisation in Australia, I attended an open evening hosted by two Greystones guys (Jim and Brian) where Gerry Walsh of the Irish Men’s Shed Association gave a talk. Jim and Brian have been the driving force of the Shed, but I knew I could contribute in a different way and immediately got on board.

What strikes me most with the Irish Men’s Shed

The Shed initiative is a vital support for men, which benefits the community on so many levels. I like using my hands at making things, fixing things, just tinkering about, but all self-taught, and I don’t have a workshop area. I’m looking forward to learning new skills from guys who have a great deal more experience than me, and hopefully passing some of my skills on to others. Also I know my luck will run out one day and I will make a permanent, unintended alteration with a power tool to our dining table at home. The Shed will give the space that I, and men like me, need to work on projects in a safe environment. The Shed is all about collaboration and the Irish Country Women’s association recently donated money to help us get off the ground, and we really want to repay their generosity. We have previously redecorated the local scout hut, and expect to contribute to the local community in similar ways. (Note: If you are interested in starting a Men’s Shed in your community you can register your interest by clickling the link below)

Start A Men’s Shed

Finally, mental health is a cause I firmly believe in, having witnessed the effects of how suddenly, unexpectedly, and devastatingly depression can strike down even a fit, healthy man with a solid career. Although the stigma is lessening as awareness increases, I think men still need to be encouraged to share their issues and confront loneliness. The unofficial Shed motto is that Men don’t talk face to face, they talk shoulder to shoulder and in the Greystones Men’s Shed we are committed to tackling this issue, for young and old, retired, unemployed or working men, the able-bodied and those with special needs.

What I find most challenging

To date what we have achieved has been brought about through the dogged persistence of Jim and Brian. Initially we will need help accessing resources at our Shed is currently sitting in a field in Kildare and will require specialist equipment to transport it and position it on site. Then we will need to connect it to the electricity supply and water. Then we will need to start equipping it. We don’t necessarily need money (although every cent we receive will be wisely spent): qualified tradesmen giving us a few hours of their time, office or house clearances where furniture is being thrown away, people donating old tools from their sheds and all will be welcome. We know the goodwill exists in the community and we just need to tap into it!

What I’m best at

I’m pretty focused, so once I’m engaged with a project I have to see it through to the end. Plus I love getting something for nothing, making a deal and getting the most bang for our buck.

What I love about the community where I live

With the harbour, sports pitches and BMX / Skate park, scouts etc. there is a great outdoors feel to the town. But equally importantly, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the generosity of others. Local business and traders have lent us equipment or given their time in order to bring us to the point whereby we could get this Shed up and running in the next few weeks. That’s what makes Greystones such a great place.

Every month we help hundreds of people to start new initiatives in their commmunities. If you are interested in starting or joining a Men’s shed in your community you can contact us at [email protected] or register you interest by clickling the link below:

Start A Men’s Shed