Men’s Shed Fermanagh helps local men integrate into the community

A community initiative in Co Fermanagh is helping men come together and tackle social isolation as the region emerges from Covid-19 restrictions.

The Men’s Shed Fermanagh group brings together local men to participate in activities such as carpentry and upholstery.

The group meets several times a week just outside Enniskillen and is mainly made up of men aged 50 and over.

It is coordinated by mental health charity Action Mental Health, and its project manager, David Lowe, says it has become particularly important as a social outlet since the start of the pandemic.

“The best way to describe it is a club for older guys, they can come together and develop friendships and support networks,” David said.

“It just allows them to hang out somewhere, especially if they have a physical disability or other issues.

“If they have caregivers, it can also give them some breathing room to come here for an hour or two.

“They’re all over 50, but I’d say the average is around 70.”

The initiative has struggled lately due to Covid-19 restrictions, David added.

Numbers had to be limited as well as some of the activities the group would normally do.

He said: “There was a big problem because for a long time people couldn’t come in, we were closed from March 2020 to July and we worked outside in the garden.

“We have very limited numbers, before we had 20 or more people there, all joking and laughing.

“Now it’s more limited and there are still many who are afraid to enter, as they are a vulnerable group.”

However, as restrictions continue to ease and members of vulnerable groups slowly become more confident in socialising, David hopes the group can grow stronger.

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“We now run different classes, ranging from keeping fit to yoga to padding.

“People can come in and participate in classes or work on their own projects.

“There’s a lot going on and it’s great that the guys are coming together.”

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