Carn 'Shedders' remain shoulder to shoulder while self isolating

Carn Men’s Shed harnessing Whatsapp and Facebook to keep in touch during Covid-19 pandemic

Carn Men's Shed

Carn Men’s Shed music group who met for a session every Monday night

During the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, and the need to self-isolate, members of the Men’s Shed Carn have been harnessing Internet apps/technologies such as Whatsapp and Facebook to keep in touch and to share the activities they have been involved in.

Deborah Shiels Office Manager of the Men’s Shed Carn said: “The Men’s Shed Carn has been operating since February 2012, with support from IDP (Inishowen Development Partnership), with the original objective of the project being to create a social outlet for men of the local community who had been impacted by the recession, and to share their skills. 

"The shed now has more than 40 members and has more recently been expanded to include women members."

Long-standing Men’s Shed Carn member, Maurice Mc Elvaney, shares his reasons for joining the shed: “I was recovering from depression when I heard that a Men’s Shed was starting in the old Co-op, Moville Rd. Carn. This was a response to the severe recession.

"I wasn’t surprised that there was a huge take-up among young and ‘not so young’ who had become unemployed and needed a structure in their lives. 

“What did surprise me was how well members of different ages worked so well together. Members with certain skills were generous in helping those who lacked manual skills.  It was wonderful to see members aged 70+ giving advice to fellows of 20+ and that help being taken and appreciated. 

"There were a number of team projects such as the making of a traditional Irish ‘Curragh’ boat and restoration of an old “Pony Trap”. These knitted the membership together. To be a small part of these projects was a great help in getting me over my severe depression.

"A few evenings each week gave me a structure to my life and made me much more balanced mentally and I can say that through the Men’s Shed I made friends for life."

Deborah went on to say: “Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of a crisis.  The impact of this on our members is potentially profound.  A lot of them are being asked to ‘cocoon’ and with that, the social outlet provided by the Shed has been taken away from them. 

"Never has the need for a strong support network and the undertaking of projects or hobbies been so vital for our wellbeing as it is today. 

"Although we are in confinement in our homes, this does not have to isolate us from society or support networks such as the members of the Shed where we encourage as much communication with fellow members as possible.   

"As such, we decided to harness the technologies a lot of them have on their phones to stay in touch and have set up a Whatsapp group where members can easily stay in touch and share images of projects they are working on, hobbies carried out or perhaps stories or songs they could share through video. 

“One of our members has even offered to do a cooking demonstrations for us through Whatsapp.  In the next few weeks we will also start looking into using video sharing technology such as Zoom as a tool to reach out to our members and to help them stay in touch – while at a safe distance. 

“We plan to offer tutorials and support showing members how to use such tools and any other technology which they feel would enhance their communication with friends and family members at this time, such as Skype. 

“In the next few weeks we are looking into competitions and perhaps quizzes we could organise. This could take the form of a Zoom call or maybe through Whatsapp, there are so many types of technology for this type of communication and for this we have to be thankful!

“Like everyone else, we had so many projects planned for April, May and June this year, however they were not meant to be and we have to adapt to an alternative way of delivering our service. 

"As the uncertainty of the timeframe of this lockdown remains we are now planning more long-term in the delivery of online services. 

"We hope to expand on what we deliver online in the near future to include training and online tutorials – so watch this space.  If you would like any information about the services we plan to offer,  any other ideas or want to sign up as a member please Deborah Shiels on or find us on Facebook.”

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