Over 70 residents and dignitaries gathered together to celebrate the opening of the first Irish Men’s Shed at Clochar Court in Harlesden in July this week. Opened by His Excellency, Mr Dan Mulhall, Ambassador of Ireland to Great Britain in his final engagement before he leaves for the US, the Men’s Shed has been set up to provide both a workshop and a social space for the Irish Community in London.
The initiative was brought together by Innisfree Housing Association and O’Donovan Waste Disposal, who donated the shed, along with the support of Irish in Britain and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Ireland). Sited at Innisfree’s sheltered housing scheme at Clochar Court it will welcome residents, the local community and tenants from Innisfree’s other general needs and shared housing.
The ‘Men’s Shed’ model of community engagement was established in Australia and takes the concept of a ‘garden shed’ and makes it a larger communal space where a group of men can work side by side on crafts and practical activities such as woodwork, furniture repair and basket weaving. Activities at Innisfree’s Men’s Shed will be decided by the interests and experience of its members, and what Innisfree can safely provide equipment and oversight for.
Anne McLoughlin, Chair of Innisfree said ‘we want to share this experience with our network of Irish Community organisations around the country – having this as just the first of the Irish Men’s Sheds in the UK. Although the brand is Men’s Shed – it’s not just for men!’
Jacqueline O’Donovan, Managing Director of O’Donovan Waste Disposal, said: “We are delighted and honoured to be involved in such an important initiative. These men have worked hard in our industry and it is important that we come together to support them now they are retired. The shed will be a great way of keeping them active and learn new skills.”