A crisis meeting of Men’s Sheds in West Cork will take place next month to discuss why several have closed down and others face an uncertain future.

The concerns follow the announcement by the co-ordinator of the Men’s Shed in Bandon that the project, established in 2012, could be wound up by next autumn unless it receives more support.

If this happens, Bandon will follow the closures in recent years of sheds in Clonakilty, Bantry, and Dunmanway.

“We’re running our group through fundraising activities, but it costs €500 a month to run the Men’s Shed and there are so many other charities trying to raise funds from a small town,” said Tom McCleary, whose Shed has 25 members, several of whom are non-Irish in origin.

“Men’s Sheds in other European countries receive State or lottery funding but we get nothing from the State, the local authority or the National Lottery.”

We’re struggling to stay open. I am calling on the Government or the local authority to provide support to Bandon Men’s Shed. You just cannot expect a small community to keep funding the existence of the local Men’s Shed.

“The local people are very good to us when we look for funding.”

The Shed was just one of many voluntary groups seeking community support.

The next month’s meeting, which is being organised by the Irish Men’s Shed Association (IMSA), aims to bring representatives of existing and recently defunct sheds in West Cork together to discuss their difficulties and challenges and “develop a roadmap for increased shed sustainability in the West Cork region”.

IMSA confirmed that in recent years Men’s Sheds in Clonakilty, Dunmanway, and Bantry have closed down, while sheds in two other towns, Skibbereen and Bandon, face an uncertain future:

“It does appear that the number of active sheds in West Cork has dwindled, with sheds in Bantry and Dunmanway and Clonakilty having closed and sheds in Bandon and Skibbereen facing uncertainty,” said CEO Barry Sheridan, who added that Men’s Sheds could close for a number of reasons, ranging from lack of interest to insufficient funding to difficulty locating a premises.

Bandon Men’s Sheds
Bandon Men’s Sheds

He explained that while the national association receives funding from central government and a range of corporate and philanthropic partners, these sums were tied to “specific programmes and activities” such as the Shed Support Volunteer programme.

“In other words, while the association is centrally funded to assist sheds through such programmes, it is not itself a funding body for sheds, nor, with 400 sheds throughout the island, would this be financially viable in the short term,” said Mr Sheridan.

“Instead, we support sheds through a variety of initiatives and partnerships.”

The problems in West Cork will be discussed at the organisation’s scheduled Cork Cluster Meeting in June, which brings together representatives from every shed in the city and county.

“We are making it a priority to examine precisely how best we can support all our sheds in the West Cork region through their current challenges, working with them to try and garner the supports needed to ensure their continued existence and impact on the men and local communities they are operating in,” said Mr Sheridan.

However, prior to that, the issue will be top of the agenda at a special meeting in West Cork for the Men’s Sheds before the end of May.

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