Vincent Ward is looking forward to getting his hands dirty in a project supported by the Big Lottery Fund for men, who like Vincent, have acquired brain injury.
The Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All small grants programme is awarding Headway Newry a grant of £9,600 as part of a grants roll-out of £604,181 to 69 groups across Northern Ireland.
The grant will be used to run a Men’s Shed project at its new premises in the city, giving its male members the opportunity to do woodwork and gardening.
The project was welcomed by Vincent, 43, a former bricklayer who suffered a brain injury as the result of an accident during the Belfast to Dublin maracycle in 1998. He was unconscious for two and a half months. “Mentally and physically I could not go back to work. I can’t walk straight now, never mind build a wall straight!” he said.
But Vincent says he, and other men like him, have talents which would be well put to use in a Men’s Shed project.
Sheila Quinn, Development Officer with Headway, said: “Acquired brain injury and depression go hand in hand. We believe the Men’s Shed project is a great way to combat depression. Research has shown that men who may not be comfortable talking face to face will talk shoulder to shoulder.
“They will work on our allotment and the shed will be used for woodwork, making things like raised beds which are important as many of our members have disabilities and cannot kneel down to do work like weeding.”
Headway Newry has 40 male members whose ages range from 22 to 70. A number have acquired a brain injury as a result of a fall, accident, aneurism or assault, and have a range of disabilities including balance problems and mood swings.
“All these brain injury survivors will never work again,” said Sheila. “They include carpenters, bricklayers and plasterers and this project will give them a sense of belonging and a chance to develop their skills. To spend an afternoon working with their hands in the woodwork shed or on the allotment will give them real pleasure.”
Vincent agreed: “I am looking forward to working on the allotment. When you are gardening it does not matter if you fall over, you have a safe landing on soil and you can scrape, shovel and pull weeds.
“There are a lot of men who have had to retire because of their brain injury, joiners, plasterers and men who are useful with their hands. Some of them might not have worked for 20 or 30 years so to have the chance to hammer nails and saw wood will be quite an achievement. Talking together at the same time will make us feel nearly normal again.”
Visit our website to see other projects that have been funded: