A NEW Women’s Shed has been set up in Midleton in an effort to ensure that “women are not being left behind”.
The Men’s Shed movement has exploded in popularity since it was set up in Ireland in 2011, with almost 380 sheds now opened across the country, giving men a place to meet, share skills, and combat loneliness.
However, Women’s Sheds have been almost non-existent in Cork until now. It's believed the Midleton shed is only the second female shed to open in Cork, following one in Beara, West Cork, last year.
The founder of Midleton Women’s Shed, Magda Swierczek, said she was inspired to set up the project after hearing about the success of Men’s Sheds.
“I had heard of Men’s Sheds and thought it was a brilliant idea and felt women were being left behind. I Googled Women’s Sheds and saw that there were ones in Dungarvan and Limerick. I contacted them to see what was involved in setting up and it seemed easy enough, just find members!
“I’m hoping to get a nice group of women together who enjoy meeting weekly to spend time together, make new friends, and learn new things.”
Martial arts and horticulture skills are being taught, shared, and enhanced at the Midleton shed.
Magda, who is originally from Poland, has been living in Ireland for the past 14 years and now lives in Cloyne with her husband Tomasz and their two children.
The Midleton organisation is in its infancy, but Magda has big plans for the group and is working towards applying for funding which has become available for Women’s Sheds from Cork County Council.
A national allocation of €500,000 was announced for the Men’s Shed fund by the Department of Rural and Community Affairs with €28,796 allocated to Cork county.
This year, Cork County Council has stipulated that the fund could be used for Women’s Sheds also.
Magda, who works 20 hours a week in Midleton Community Garden under a Tús scheme, said she wanted to expand the community garden into the local community. The Women’s Shed, which held its first meeting this month, meets every Wednesday from 10am to 12pm at the large potting shed in the community garden.
Thirteen people, in a range of age groups, turned up for the first meeting and among those in attendance were a painter and a horticulturist who are willing to run art classes and gardening workshops for the group.
Mrs Swierczek said the group is keen to learn martial arts such as tai chi as well as mindfulness and would be looking into arranging classes in the near future.
Treasurer of Midleton Men’s Shed, Tom Hogan, said Midleton Women’s Shed is a great idea and wished the group the best of luck.
“Men’s Sheds are all about reducing isolation and protecting mental health and if it is the case that women need another social outlet well then best of luck to them.”