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Official opening for newly-extended Armagh Men’s Shed

West Armagh Consortium welcomed visitors, shed members and their families to the official opening of Armagh Men’s Shed’s newly extended unit in Armagh yesterday, Friday.

The unit, adjacent to their existing one, offers more space to house equipment and will support the delivery of a wide range of learning opportunities.

In 2013 the Consortium, in partnership with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust and supported by Armagh City and District Council, secured five year funding through the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Connecting Older People Programme’ to deliver the Men’s Shed project.

Since then the project has being working with older men living across Armagh City and District to help improve their quality of life and reduce the likelihood of health inequalities.

Speaking at the event, shed member and volunteer Sean Toner gave an interesting insight the shed and the impact it has had in his life

“By taking part in shed activities it has helped put a smile back on my face and given me the get up and go to enjoy my life more,” he said.

“Members are able to gather in the shed and work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in the company of other men”.

Co-ordinator of Armagh Men’s Shed, Stephen McCleary, said: “The main objective of the shed is to support the advancement of the health and wellbeing of our members as well as providing them with a different focus in life.

“Examples of programmes that the men have engaged in to date include awareness sessions on topics such as healthy eating, dementia, suicide prevention and physical activity.

“Members love the hands-on work so regularly take part in a range of courses such as woodcraft, pottery, photography and copperwork.

“More recently some of the men involved in the shed have established a choir and will be singing for the President of Ireland at an event in Dublin in October.”

The new unit was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Armagh City and District Council, Councillor Cathy Rafferty, who commented: “This project is a result of a great deal of hard work by local men and is a shining example of what can be achieved, on not only a local level, but across our society.

“The importance of men’s health in today’s culture is of paramount importance. This project provides a unique opportunity for men to come together to exchange ideas, develop positive social relationships and create a sense of belonging.”

Speaking at the opening, Chief Executive of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Mairead McAlinden, added: “In the Southern Trust we are committed to doing all we can to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in our area.

“The Men’s Shed is a great example of how we achieve more by working together. I have heard today how our partnership with the West Armagh Consortium, which is supported byArmagh Council, is making a real difference, helping local men to live happier and healthier lives. Men’s Sheds are an important community resource and I congratulate everyone who has worked so hard to make it a success.”

Newry & Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan, congratulating all involved, said that many men found the issue of their own wellbeing and the topic of male health difficult to talk about, and that the Men’s Sheds Initiative would help open it up and encourage men to make their health a priority.

“I would also encourage men from the surrounding areas like Keady to get involved,” said the Sinn Féin MLA.

For further information on the Armagh Men’s Shed, contact Stephen or Kathleen on (028) 3752 8997 or email armaghmensshed@yahoo.com

The Armagh Shed will host a coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support next Friday, September 26, from 11.00am to 2.00pm, where they will also raffle a handcrafted children’s play house manufactured in the shed. All are welcome. 

Picture: Lord Mayor of Armagh Cathy Rafferty with local elected representatives and some of those involved pictured at the Armagh Shed’s official opening yesterday, Friday.

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