North Leitrim Men’s Group
Supervisor: Joel Smith
The North Leitrim Men’s Group (NLMG) was formed in 1996. The makeup of this group consisted of Community Employment scheme supervisors, past Community Employment scheme participants who had progressed to work, participants who had expressed an interest in the concept of the group, and concerned males from sponsoring or business backgrounds. These people were concerned that the needs of socially and geographically isolated men were not being met.
In particular the NLMG recognised that in spite of the high percentage of single men over 35 and living alone in isolated conditions and the high number of admissions to psychiatric hospitals within this age group, little practical action to tackle the problems involved had been taken. Community groups and statutory service providers traditionally have not viewed single men as a specific target group, and the lack of targeted programmes meant that their problems were individualised, dispersed and consequently invisible and overlooked.
In view of this deficit, the NLMG decided that the structure and support offered by the FÁS Community Employment programme would be an ideal vehicle within which to launch an innovative and challenging approach to tackling these issues. In August 1997 a project proposal was developed which adopted an approach aimed at meeting the needs of single, isolated men within the North Leitrim Area. From the start the NLMG placed particular emphasis on the importance of Community Employment as a social contact. The project proposal was accepted by FÁS and the scheme began in September 1997.
With the continued support of DSP we have run a scheme for men in the target group every year since then. Other significant developments for the NLMG since 1997 have been the publication in 2001 of the results of a comprehensive survey into the lives and needs of single men in North Leitrim and the launch in 2002, with the support of the North Western Health Board of an innovative Health Project for participants on the Community Employment scheme.