There’s nothing new about men gathering together in their own space to talk, share skills, swap ideas, solve problems or just discuss life in general - it’s been happening since the beginning of time. There’s nothing new either about men spending time in their backyard shed - an acknowledged Aussie pastime.
What is relatively new is that men, particularly retired men, are combining these two activities in a communal space simply called a Men’s Shed.
Activities within sheds are many and various: woodwork, metal work, restoration of old cars, welding and metal work. The membership is diverse too. Men from all backgrounds, ethnic and social mixes can enjoy a Men’s Shed, bringing their unique cultural characteristics to enliven the activities.
Productivity and the new relationships formed greatly influence feelings of self-esteem and confidence for the men visiting a shed. This is also enabled by learning new skills – both practical and social in the shed environment.
The common theme in all sheds is about men feeling useful and contributing again to their communities, learning or sharing their skills, making friends, networking and availing themselves of health information programs and opportunities. Sheds facilitate health interventions in both direct and indirect ways.
Although health benefits are not amongst the main motivations for attendance at Sheds, most members acknowledge that these benefits exist.
"I come here for camaraderie, and to get out of the housework.”
"There's plenty to get on with and I'm much more active. If I wasn't doing this I wouldn't be doing anything, I'd just be at home, especially during the winter."
"If an issue comes up, then we sit down and have a cup of tea.
"You do find things out by talking to each other."
Men’s Sheds are fast being recognised as vital, viable places to fulfill these needs and provide relaxed, happy creative spaces for men to enjoy!
There are very few rules. The only obligation is for the member to enjoy his time at the shed and contribute to the enjoyment of other members.
Membership of the Men’s Shed is set by the individual shed and open to men of all ages, but is primarily targeted at men over 55 years of age.