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Popular Portadown Men’s Shed aim to build ‘home of our own’ to meet growing demand

"It is clear that if the space isn't available men won't continue to attend and there is a real fear that the Shed will die rather than prosper"

Portadown Men's Shed plans

Portadown Men’s Shed is hoping to build a new permanent home to accommodate additional hours and growing numbers.

The organisation – which was constituted in July 2018 – has submitted proposals to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for consideration.

The new premises are earmarked for a site within ‘The Secret Garden’ at Edenvilla Park.

The location is currently described as “vacant land” and the proposal is for a new “two-storey community building to accommodate the Men’s Shed”.

The application has come forward in the name of David Thornton, who is the Secretary of Portadown Men’s Shed.

The Men’s Shed currently boasts around 20 members and works out of a 4m x 4m structure. The new building would be 14 metres in length and 8.1 metres in width. It would also have a toilet, washroom and canteen facilities, as well as parking.

The Men’s Shed had located to the ABC Council-owned facilities at Edenvilla in the summer of 2019, and last year achieved charitable status.

The Shed is currently opened on Wednesdays, with the intention to extend to Thursdays too. Welfare facilities are shared with another group on Mondays and Fridays which restrict expansion.

The members of Men’s Shed have, among other things, been responsible for constructing a pergola in the grounds on Brownlow Courtyard for the Knitted Knockers NI charity; supported a school gardening project for St John the Baptist Primary School, and recently began on-site training in woodwork for young adults at Lurgan YMCA.

A supporting statement, written by Mr Thornton, explains the reasoning for the application, the need and the benefits – not just to the membership but to the wider community.

He explains: “The membership comprises of a cross-community organisation which welcomes a diverse range of men. It focuses on providing a safe and relaxed environment for local men to come together to exchange ideas, develop positive social relationships and create a sense of belonging.

“It provides an opportunity for men to work on meaningful projects, arts and crafts, gardening activities, community projects, projects of their choice in their own time or simply hang out, talk and find companionship and emotional support and a cuppa if that’s all they’re looking for.

Portadown Men's Shed proposed plans

“There has been beneficial synergy with the council as the men have been involved with the manufacture of new playgroup equipment as well as running repairs to existing kit.

“Portadown Men’s Shed has been successful in meeting its initial objectives, and in turn this has created a situation whereby space to operate has become an increasingly restrictive factor in the ability to grow.

“This applies specifically to the accommodation of the increasing membership at a physical level as well as finding space for the location of equipment and raw materials.

“It is clear that if the space isn’t available men won’t continue to attend and there is a real fear that the Shed will die rather than prosper.

“Consequently, there is an urgent need to find new premises, preferably on the existing site at Edenvilla.”

Membership of Portadown Men’s Shed include some who have held managerial positions, while others have “limited education but lots of life experience”.

The supporting statement adds: “The new building will have adequate workspace to futureproof the Men’s Shed existence in the Portadown locality.”

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