“Men don’t talk face to face, they talk shoulder to shoulder.” This is the motto of the Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA) – a nationwide organisation providing spaces for men to meet and work on meaningful projects.
From a practical point of view, Men’s Sheds offer a central hub for men to put their skills to good use across all kinds of DIY activities like making furniture, restoring old bicycles and designing arts and crafts; but AMSA’s purpose runs far deeper than this.
In giving men a place and reason to come together, the introduction of Men’s Sheds has been a huge step forward in combatting the social isolation that many men experience when they are no longer in professional employment. Whether they have left work due to retirement, health ailments or other personal reasons, a large proportion of men find that their social life suffers as a result; with the ensuing feeling of isolation often leading to more serious health issues such as depression, substance abuse and even suicide.
Men’s Sheds give men a new purpose. The hands-on nature of every project keeps the mind active, while the relaxed, inclusive environment allows men to connect with other members who are in a similar personal position. The result is a renewed sense of camaraderie, which is giving Australian men the confidence to discuss their problems and open up to one another in a way that is proving to significantly improve members’ overall well-being.
Furthermore, the Sheds’ benefits stretch far beyond the individual member. Since the initiative’s inception in 2007, its social value has had wide-reaching impact; with Men’s Sheds working with charities, schools and other not-for-profit organisations to deliver products that have made a hugely positive contribution to local communities. The Sheds are also home to a valuable mentoring scheme, where younger men can learn skills from their elders to enhance their own career prospects, while keeping traditional trades alive.
As the organisation’s official corporate sponsor, Cabot’s is proud to play a part in supporting AMSA and the enormous contribution Men’s Sheds are making in terms of the men’s health movement and the betterment of our communities.
Today, AMSA is the largest men’s support organisation in Australia, with 985 Men’s Sheds and an estimated 150,000 participants country-wide. Its success has been so great, the model is now being rolled internationally, as it continues to change men’s lives for the better – one shed at a time.