The North Belfast Men’s Shed was established in 2012 as an initiative that hosts various events and activities that aims to reduce social isolation as well as improving the health and wellbeing of the men that take part. Supported by the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘People and Communities programme’, and managed by Ashton Community Trust, the project provides a place for its members to learn and share skills, take part in social events and volunteer their time to make a positive contribution to the wider community.
The delivery team and participating shed members have worked in partnership to develop a safe, shared and inclusive environment that welcomes men from different community backgrounds, cultures and age groups. This is important and has allowed Shed members to support one another through difficult circumstances and overcome challenging situations such as bereavement, separation or life limiting illness. It has also helped to cultivate friendships which extend beyond the opening hours of the Shed and have been shown help further to reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness amongst its members.
“There are people here from all backgrounds and areas: the Shed has given me the opportunity to meet and mix with them regardless of where they come from and which I otherwise would not have had”
All members of North Belfast Men’s Shed are welcome to attend events which are organised and hosted by other Shed members. This may involve taking part in a workshop to learn new or share existing skills, participation in a project that may benefit the wider community or just meeting up to socialise in the company of other members over tea, coffee and a generous slice of cake or even a game of pool! Since its inception the North Belfast Men’s Shed have also organised a wide range of social outings such as visiting the Railway Preservation Society, going to a local museum, taking a trip to Rathlin Island, fishing off the Bangor coast or organising an annual shed barbecue for friends and family.