Building a better future at Crumlin Men’s Shed   Posted on 20 June 2023

A Men’s Shed in Crumlin set up to reduce isolation, teach new skills and encourage giving back to the community is offering a series of workshops to local people thanks to support from Clanmil Housing.

Clanmil’s funding contribution is part of a Good Relations programme for a new ‘Housing For All’ shared housing development at Lough Neagh Terrace, funded by the NI Housing Executive and the Department for Communities.

The Crumlin Men’s Shed has been based at a former school building in the town since 2019 and thanks to the hard work of members, has been transformed into a multifunctional space including a workshop, art room, seating area and kitchen. Outside there are two polytunnels and raised beds where members have been cultivating a variety of vegetables, plants and flowers.

The group are preparing a programme of workshops for the summer, all of which are free for members of the local community. The workshops - art, car maintenance and home improvement - will be delivered by specialist tutors with input from some of the regular members, who include an amateur artist, a mechanic, a joiner, and a former garden centre owner.

Jim Anderson, Secretary of the Crumlin Men’s Shed, is a retired electrician and has been involved with the group for a number of years. He said the support from Clanmil has been much-needed:

“It’s been a welcome injection of help for us. We realized that if we wanted to run workshops and invite members of the public in, we needed to improve the facilities. We’ve already been able to upgrade our polytunnels with an irrigation system (which has proved very useful with the recent dry weather) and add raised beds. Inside the main building we’ve almost completed upgrading the toilets which will make the premises more comfortable for people visiting,”

The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia in the 1980s with the aim of bringing men aged 18 and older together to share their interests and socialise.

While the Crumlin Men’s Shed encourages the sharing of knowledge and learning new skills, it’s an important social space for men of all ages to gather. Whether someone wants to come in and create something in the workshop, tend to plants in the polytunnels or simply have a chat and a cuppa in the lounge area, everyone is welcome.

The group have also benefited from visiting speakers delivering topics ranging from mental health and wellbeing to staying safe around the home.

Jim added: “Many of us are retired and some live on their own, so we do look out for each other. We don’t force people to come in every day or take part in things, and it’s up to each individual. But if someone hadn’t been in for a while, one of us would pick up the phone and check they’re OK.”

Austin Kelly, Community Cohesion Officer at Clanmil said: “Clanmil is pleased to support the Men’s Shed project because as well as encouraging further learning and sharing of skills, the project reduces isolation and improves the wellbeing of members. It’s also important that the group are involved in the local community and welcome people of all backgrounds. When we bring a new ‘Housing For All’ development to a community, we aim to build strong links with the people who live here and encourage the cross-community ethos from the beginning. We look forward to continuing to work with the Men’s Shed and wish them every success in the future.”

Crumoin Men's Shed
The art room at Crumlin Men's Shed

Lough Neagh Terrace is a development of 19 apartments being built in Crumlin and will be supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.

Funding of £387,485 has been provided by the Department for Communities to support a five year Good Relations plan for the development.  A range of cross-community activities are being set up as part of this plan. The new homes will be ready for handover to residents in autumn 2025.