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 male culture. Men’s Sheds are springing up all around the globe.
Men’s Sheds began in Australia in the mid-1990s and in the two decades since then have become a movement which has spread to New Zealand, to South Asia, to Greece, to Finland, to Britain and to Ireland.
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 bird feeders, fixing lawn mowers or making a cubby house for their grandchildren or to raffle to raise funds. 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 will most likely see many tea-bags, coffee cups and hopefully a comfortable area where men can sit and talk.
It must be recognised that not all sheds are exclusively for men and that some sheds choose to call themselves ‘Community Sheds’ as they may be open to female members. The decision to have female members is entirely a local one. For the purposes of this document, the term ‘Men’s Shed’ is used to cover all member Men’s Sheds.
So what is so special about this new type of Men’s Shed?
Unlike women, most men are reluctant to talk about their emotions and take an interest in their own health which 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. 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.
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.