The wearing of face screens made in the Men’s Shed will be obligatory following reopening

However crucial the Government’s lock-down arrangements have been in managing the Covid 19 pandemic, they strike right at the heart of the raison d’etre of the North Belfast Men’s Shed Project. Fundamentally, this project aims to promote and enable reduction of social isolation whereas the Government’s management of the pandemic has centred on promoting social distancing and elements of self-isolation.

Accordingly, it is crucial not only that the Men’s Shed reopens as soon as possible, but that it will do so with Shed-specific arrangements in place that are aimed at protecting the safety and healthy well-being of all participants.

Across the past several weeks, forward planning for this to be possible has identified several arrangements relating to day to day operation of the Shed that will be put in place upon reopening. These will relate to the number of participants permitted to be on the premises and the number permitted to be in each area within the Shed at any given time. Other arrangements will, for example, relate to floor marking, movement within the building and use of the kitchen area etc.
Although such aspects of planning in the Men’s Shed have been guided by advice circulated by the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, they are specific to North Belfast Men’s Shed and the needs of those who participate in the Shed Project.

A highly significant further aspect of the North Belfast Men’s Shed’s preparation for reopening is the development, manufacture and assembly of its own PPE face screens. These make use of the Shed’s Epilogue laser machine to cut the face screen shape from a sheet of PETG (plastic) material. A team of Shed members has been trained to carry out the further aspects of creating a wearable face screen. These include fitting a sponge spacer across the top front of the screen and the attaching of an elastic head band.

In the first instance, one of these home-produced face screens will be issued free of charge to each participant in the Men’s Shed Project. Wearing of the screens will be obligatory while attending the Men’s Shed following its much needed and much anticipated reopening.

The Men’s Shed also looks forward to publicising its capacity for producing its face screens. It is very much hoped that the screens will become part of the Shed’s social enterprise product portfolio. This would mean that screens could be made to order for other Men’s Sheds or other organisations/groups requiring this element of Personal Protective Equipment.

John Johnston