What is a Men’s Shed?
The modern Men’s Shed is an updated version of the shed in the backyard that has long been a part of Australian culture. Men’s Sheds are found in many cities and towns around Australia and continue to spring up internationally.
Not all Men’s Sheds are the same – if you looked inside you might see a number of men making furniture, perhaps restoring bicycles for a local school, making Mynah bird traps, fixing lawn mowers or making a cubby house for Camp Quality to raffle. You might also see a few young men working with the older men obtaining new skills and learning something about life from the men with whom they work. You might see local elders making traditional weapons or designing arts and crafts. You will see tea-bags, coffee cups and a comfortable area where men can sit and talk. You will probably also see an area where men can learn to cook for themselves or how to contact their families by computer.
So what is so special about the ‘Men’s Shed’?
Most men have learned from our culture that they don’t talk about feelings and emotions many do not take an interest in their own health and well-being. Unlike women, most men are reluctant to talk about their emotions and that means that they usually don’t ask for help. Probably because of this, many men are less healthy than women, drink more, take more risks and suffer more from isolation, loneliness and depression. Relationship breakdown, retrenchment or early retirement from a job, loss of children following divorce, physical or mental illness are just some of the problems that men may find difficult to deal with on their own.
Good health is based on many factors including feeling good about yourself, being productive, contributing to your community, connecting with friends and maintaining an active body and mind. Becoming a member of a Men’s Shed provides a safe and busy environment where men can find many of these things in an atmosphere of old-fashioned mateship. And, importantly, there is no pressure. Men can just come and have a yarn and a cuppa if that is all they’re looking for.
Members of Men’s Sheds come from all walks of life – the bond that unites them is that they are men with time on their hands and would like something meaningful to do with that time.
A good Men’s Shed has a Management Committee that has developed a safe and happy environment where men are welcome to work on community projects, specific Men’s Shed projects or a project of their choice in their own time and where the only ‘must’ is to observe safe working practices….all in a spirit of mateship.
The Men’s Shed movement has now become one of the most powerful tools in addressing health and wellbeing and helping men to once again become valued and productive members of our community.