For many Australian men the local Men’s Shed offers somewhere to go, something to do and mates that make it all worthwhile.
Since the first community shed for men opened its doors in 1993, the Men’s Shed community has grown to encompass more than 2,500 Sheds in 12 countries.
Today 1,297 Men’s, Women’s and Community Sheds benefit from membership of the Australian Men’s Shed Association. A figure that surpasses even the number of McDonald’s restaurants around the country.
Known by many as a place where older blokes can go to tinker and have a cuppa, to the wider Australian public there is still some mystery around what goes on at the local shed. And truth be told, the detailed picture varies from shed to shed, depending on the members within its walls.
Despite any standing mystery, what is well known is the value Men’s Sheds add to local communities: connecting men, improving health and wellbeing outcomes, and positively contributing to almost 1,300 vibrant and thriving communities around Australia.
The first community shed for men, ‘The Shed at Goolwa Heritage Club’, opened in Goolwa (South Australia) in February 1993.
To coincide with this 30-year milestone, this week the Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA) launches a year-long celebration of 30 Years of Sheds.
“The 30th anniversary of the birth of Men’s Sheds is truly significant for thousands of men and their communities,” said AMSA Executive Officer David Helmers.
“30 Years of Sheds is a celebration of three decades of connection, community and camaraderie built on the shoulders of Shedders around the world,” said Mr Helmers.
Recognised as one answer to national health issues emanating from social isolation, local Sheds have evolved into community hubs and contribute to fostering community spirit from the city suburbs to regional and rural towns.
In recent years the concept has organically broadened to incorporate Men’s, Women’s and Community Sheds, offering community members from many walks of life the opportunity to learn new skills (and practice old ones) and contribute to local community development. All whilst building a larger network of social connections for the benefit of better wellbeing and health.
30 Years of Sheds highlights significant ‘shedding’ milestones whilst acknowledging that the true success and impact of the Men’s Shed movement is owed to a community of people (mostly volunteers) that built and continue to drive the movement forward.
“One of the most wonderful things about the Men’s Shed movement is that is has been a grassroots and community effort at all levels,” said Mr Helmers.
“The movement is not a product of one man or woman’s idea as there have been, and continues to be, many great contributors to our still growing community,” he said.
To mark the anniversary of the first shed, AMSA has released the first episode of season five of The Shed Wireless podcast featuring shed stories from the early days to today.
Launched to connect Shedders at the height of the covid pandemic, The Shed Wireless offers a dose of entertainment and education to anyone with an interest in ‘shedding’.
Season five will be the third with host Australian music icon John Paul Young at the helm.
As an honorary Shedder at his local in Toronto (NSW), Young says that his somewhat unusual entry and participation in the movement has brought a greater sense of connection to a national community of ‘mates’ from sheds far and wide.
“I’m always willing to give things a go, but I’m the first to admit my skills in the workshop aren’t a strength of mine,” said Mr Young.
“But there’s even room for a muso at the Men’s Shed.”