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Banbridge quartet set to build productive and ‘inclusive community’ with new Men’s Shed

'with your funding we will be providing a community support network that hopes to improve the quality of life of our more mature members of society'

From left to right: Paul McKitterick, Paul Scappaticci, Grahame Hadden and Giles Conlon

Men’s Sheds have been popping up across the borough for years and now it looks like Banbridge could be next to benefit from one of its own.

The sheds are designed to help ‘re-socialise more mature members of society, that have become marginalised by technology and modern norms’ and provide an overarching sense of community.

They are open to all men who wish to participate in classes and training, physical activity, crafting, DIY projects and who generally wish to broaden their knowledge across a wide range of topics.

However, groups with as much on the agenda as a Men’s Shed don’t just spring up overnight! They often need a little funding to help get them off the ground.

Organisers have now engaged their efforts to secure as much external funding as possible to lay the foundations for what could become an invaluable community asset.

Secretary for for Banbridge Men’s Community Shed, Grahame Hadden told Armagh I: “We have been working on putting the Men’s Shed together since this time last year.

“Paul Scappaticci and Paul McKitterick were the original guys setting it up and at the meeting they held I put my hand up to be Secretary and Giles Conlon as the Treasurer.

“Paul Scappaticci is a local business man and still runs Banbridge Saints and Sinners page and Paul McKitterick is a paramedic and the big thing for him is helping to improve mental health amongst men and getting people together.

“In Banbridge there is a lot of countryside and farmers who are isolated and the idea is to get rid of the isolation.”

The group have managed to secure some funding through Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s TAK£500 project fund and have been encouraged by the support so far.

Added Grahame: “We were at the TAK£500 meeting and I think we got the most votes and people kept coming up to us and saying this is really needed, get it started.

“We have had a lot of interest and raised over £200 now through the GoFundMe and we have a Facebook group for the Men’s Shed with over 200 members on it. So there’s definitely a lot of interest.”

Grahame and team have additionally conducted a fair amount of research into the journey of other Men’s Sheds; assessing how they are continuing to thrive.

“I called up to Crumlin Men’s Shed which is really amazing. They converted a derelict school and they had a tree growing out of the kitchen and they have completely repaired all of that.

“The Rathfriland Men’s Shed is really the gold standard. They have three workshops and polytunnel, a really great set up. It’s been going for about ten years and I called around last weekend to speak with the Chairman Gerry. They also converted an old, listed building so they do a lot of work but one of the big things is bringing people together with various skills.

The main aim of Banbridge Men’s Shed is to create an “all inclusive community that gives people that are lonely, a meeting point that is warm friendly and safe. They will have access to mental health advice and someone to talk to.”

However, the team have plans for guest speakers that are experts on mental health to attend and give talks, training on mindfulness and the teach basic counselling skills.

There will also be a focus on physical health – especially for the over 50s – through the provision of some basic gym equipment and group walks in the local area that “can incorporate learning of local history along with keeping fit.”

Continued Grahame: “With your funding we hope to provide good tools and quality training for the use of our members so that they can learn new skills and help others in the local community. The tools are many and varied and will constitute a steep learning curve for many as need for learning new technology will have to be provided for to learn computers, computer aided design and 3D printing – as 3D printing will become more prevalent for a lot of DIY jobs.

“We will also be providing good tools such as drill, sanding machines and other types of cutting tools and will require the prerequisite safe operating practices to be learned. We can also offer classes on painting, guitar and other artistic skills.

“We also hope to give back to the community, by supplying a pool of skilled people who can decorate, repair or build for those who cannot.

“In summary, with your funding we will be providing a community support network that hopes to improve the quality of life of our more mature members of society, a place to safely socialise, learn new skills for the modern world and have a path to mentally and physically healthier life.”

The group have started a GoFundMe page to gather donations towards their start-up costs. If you wish to contribute you can do so here.

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