Monday, 2nd December 2013: A celebration event was held today to celebrate the success of the two year Community of Lough Arrow Social Project (CLASP) Men’s Shed project which set out to address the legacy and impact of the conflict on men in County Sligo. The project was funded by the International Fund for Ireland under its Community Based Economic and Social Regeneration Programme.
Based on the very successful model of “Men’s Sheds”, which have been run in Australia, the UK and other regions in Ireland, the project aimed to create a space where men of all ages, who have been impacted by the conflict, could share their cultures, heritage and traditions and learn more about each community. This would help lead to the rebuilding of relationships and reconciliation among the men in the community and through time between the wider community and address the issue of the continuing isolation of small pockets of the protestant community in the area.
To enhance the reconciliation potential of the project, CLASP engaged with the Wise men of the East Group, an affiliation of nine men’s groups in East Belfast and the SHARE Centre in Co Fermanagh. Through their work with The Wise Men of the East, CLASP Mens Shed has made significant progress in uniting different communities and cultures through a number of visits and discussions. This has been one of the major success stories of the project.
The CLASP Men’s Shed opened in November 2011 and has proved to be a great success to date with over 40 members actively participating in the project. Activities available at the Shed range from gardening, woodwork to the area’s ancient tradition of boat building – all activities that hopefully in time, can become self-sustaining businesses. In addition, men who wish to obtain training on computers may benefit from informal, one-on-one tuition in the Shed from Transition Year students from Coola Secondary School.
A key milestone of the two year project was the launch of an 18 foot boat in Lough Arrow built by the men themselves in the Shed in Geevagh, the culmination of more than a year's hard work, and hundreds of hours of planning, cutting, carving, nailing, sanding and varnishing.
Speaking at the event, Catherine Ryan of the International Fund for Ireland, said that the Fund was proud to be associated with CLASP’s Men’s Shed project. “One of the main priorities of the Fund is engagement in innovative and pioneering work with the community sector and so the Fund is very pleased to be associated with this project which has proven to have had a very positive impact on communities in Co Sligo. The Shed has become a focal point for community development in the area enabling men to come together in a shared space to exchange ideas and learn from each other. By bringing people from both traditions together as part of an activities based programme, this project has been very successful in fostering greater interaction among participants and teaching the benefits of working together to achieve results”.
Ms Ryan also expressed a collective thanks to the international donors who have supported the work of the International Fund for Ireland for more than twenty-five years: namely, the United States of America, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“The Geevagh Men’s Shed allows men to socialise without any pressure” said Niall Culkin, Coordinator of the project. “The thinking behind the Shed idea is to enable men to come together and “talk shoulder to shoulder rather than face to face”. It allows men to socialise without any pressure. With all of these activities, there is certainly much opportunity for men around the Lough Arrow area to come together to work on meaningful projects, to enjoy tea and a chat. In doing so, they develop friendships and share and exchange knowledge and experiences. This process helps men from different backgrounds to see the myriad of things which unite them and which far outweigh that which divides. This initiative is making a huge contribution to local communities in County Sligo and efforts to remove social exclusion and we would like to thank the International Fund for Ireland for their generous funding support which enabled this project to happen”.
For further information about our funding programmes, or for information on how to apply for funding, please contact the person(s) or organisation(s) identifed at the end of the relevant programme summary in the areas of activity section.
International Fund for Ireland
28-32 Alfred St.
+44 (0)28 9031 2884