b'It is often said that Men dont talk face to face; they talk shoulder to shoulder. The Irish Mens Shed Association works on the premise that When is a Shed not a Shed?manymen,particularlyIrishmen,comefromaJohn Evoy, CEO at the Irish Mens Sheds Association, culture that emphasizes care for family, but not necessar- explained it best, If we called it a mens health centre, menily for their own health or well-being. Often, they do not wouldnt come. If we called it a mens education program,ask for help and as a result can suffer from unchecked menwouldntcome.Ifwecalleditamenssuicide health decline, loneliness, and depression. In Ireland, this prevention initiative, men wouldnt come near it. But all ofis compounded by a high unemployment rate and many that happens here. It is never forced, it simply happensmen living in rural areas who can be quite isolated. when men understand the resources that are available toBased on the successfulAustralianMensShedthem. John took Connectmagazine for a visit to the Goreymovement , the Irish Mens Shed Association is a commu- Mens Shed, which is an enormous work room in the nity-based, non-profit organization that creates spaces for VEC Adult Learning Centre in County Wexford. The spacemen of all ages to gather in a safe, friendly environment hums with activity and amidst the toolboxes, gears, and where they can work on interesting projects. While the motorcycle grease we met over a dozen men that gatherprojects can vary from reassembling a vintage motorcycle every Thursday to work, weld, repair, and drink endlessto doing charity work for another organization in need, in cups of coffee and tea. the end it is about welcoming men from all walks of life to Mens Sheds arent always a physical shed, its morebe productive, valued, and active in a collective space.of a concept of coming together, said John. Most of theSome simply come for a cup of coffee and conversation. guys here tonight would not have come to this VEC AdultOthers come and bring projects from home that they want Learning Centre before the Shed was established in theother mens input on.There can be five or six projectswork room. But once they are here, they learn about all thehappeningsimultaneouslybutintheend,theMensother opportunities that are available to them and they seeShed movement is strengthening Irish communities byother guys taking advantage of those opportunities.In fact,addressingunderlyingsocial,health,andeducational76% of our guys have now gone back to school or takenissues faced by men today.courses.We asked John about the distinct focus on men, andwhether that is ever perceived as exclusionary to women.TheMensShedmovementrecognizestherolethatwomen play in supporting the growth of the program. Egalitarianism of the genders underpins everything we do,even though we focus on men. The problems we deal withhere are also shared by women, said John, but wevefound that most women are much better at dealing andtalking openly about their problems. These problems havean effect on the community. While we dont promise to fixeverything, we are doing our part to strengthen families byworking with the men.connect 2012 | 36'