Volunteers are being sought to support Men’s Sheds in parts of Co Cork in a bid to effectively treble the level of support for the movement locally.
The Irish Men’s Shed Association (IMSA) says it is actively seeking volunteers to act as information, contact, and support points to local Men’s Sheds, one each for the West Cork and East Cork regions.
The Cork region accounts for almost 40 of the country’s 400-plus Men’s Sheds, the community-based, non-commercial organisations open to men where the primary aim is the provision of a safe, friendly, and inclusive environment where men can gather and work on projects.
It is expected a volunteer would be in place within a matter of weeks for Men’s Sheds in the West Cork region, according to Barry Sheridan, CEO of IMSA.
He hopes a second volunteer would be in place by the end of the summer to serve Sheds in the East Cork region.
Mr Sheridan said Cork has the “second highest concentration” of the groups in the country, with the exception of Dublin.
However, the sprawling Cork region currently has only one volunteer to support its 37 Men’s Sheds while Dublin, with about 50 Sheds, has three support volunteers in place.
Once in situ, both of the new Co Cork-based volunteers will be part of a national programme of Shed support volunteers established last autumn to provide localised support.
“We want the level of support to be better,” said Mr Sheridan. “This support will help them develop into the future. These volunteers will come from within our Shed network.
“These volunteers are trained at a national level.”
Mr Sheridan added that the training provided would help volunteers become a crucial contact point for Sheds in their regions.
It is expected that volunteers would each bring their cohort of Sheds together several times a year to discuss issues at local level and disseminate information from the head office. In that way, all members would have “a clear picture of what is happening”, said Mr Sheridan.
He also said while the national association receives funding from central Government and a range of corporate and philanthropic partners, the sums are tied to “specific programmes and activities” such as the Shed Support Volunteer programme.
The announcement of trained volunteers comes in the wake of a recent meeting of the West Cork Men’s Sheds group which was held in Dunmanway following a warning by the co-ordinator of the Bandon Men’s Shed, Tom McCleary, that his group was experiencing difficulties and might have to be wound up by the autumn.
Yesterday, Mr McCleary confirmed “a lot of support” had been offered to the Shed from the local business community, while the public had come forward with offers of help in the wake of an article in the Irish Examiner some weeks ago about the problems facing Bandon’s Men’s Shed, which was established six years ago and has about 25 members.
“The future of the Bandon Men’s Shed is now looking a bit more optimistic,” said McCleary.
“We are looking forward to the arrival of a volunteer support worker for West Cork.”
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