A men's shed specifically for men living in Direct Provision is celebrating its first anniversary this month.

The New Community Men's Shed in Waterford city is the only one of its kind in the country.

Through arts and craft projects and IT courses, the shed aims to help its members find work and better integrate into the Waterford community.

Supported by the St Vincent de Paul, the shed community acts as a "big brother", offering guidance and advice, according to its founder Frank Kennedy.

"I think men in Direct Provision have all the problems that generally men have with the addition of having absolutely no social support, no family support in an alien environment.

"The men's shed movement, which is absolutely fantastic, deals generally with men who are retired, or who are unemployed or elderly men for the most part, who have a community, who have a background. We've a different focus here.

"Of course, we have to have the integration and the building of confidence and so on but also our men are much younger and they need a career," Frank explained.

A mud kitchen made by members of the New Community Men's Shed

One of projects of the men's shed is the manufacture of wooden mud kitchens and buddy benches for children.

So far, they have sold 60 mud kitchens with profits going towards the shed's education fund.

Roghers Ibrahimi, 28, says working with wood has become a "passion".

"I tried to start the mud kitchen. Before it was not very good, but step-by-step now it's good.

"And now I do other projects for people. I like this job. Actually, I found myself here with brilliant people, with good people," he said.

Roghers Ibrahimi making a mud kitchen at the New Community Men's Shed

The shed's first member is Bahati Matembera.

He no longer lives in Direct Provision and completed his community employment scheme with the shed making kindling for St Vincent de Paul.

"Before, I was alone in my house. When I was coming to the shed, I feel now I have a brother, a friend.

"For me, it feels good being here. I had finished my programme, but I continued to work for the shed because it give some connection with people," Bahati said.

Bahati Matembera makes kindling for St Vincent De Paul

Although Covid-19 has proven challenging, the shed has had a successful first year.

Frank added: "Now, because of Covid, we have had to cut back hugely because our room will only take six people.

"I suppose in all, we've had about 28 people go through a programme of at least four months.

"Six of our original members are now working. So we've had six people who have integrated completely into the community."