Not Your Ordinary Shed: Creating a Sense of Community through the Men’s Shed Movement

community building

We know sheds as that extra building sitting in your backyard. We use this to store tools, garden equipment, and other supplies not suitable indoors. Some bought their house that already came with a shed. Others had one built specifically by a general contractor to complement their home. But did you know that this humble storage paved the way in building a sense of community in many parts of the world?

The Men’s Shed Movement: Its Humble Beginning

In 1995, The Men’s Shed Movement started in Australia. As the name implies, it refers to the backyard space where most men keep items not meant for indoor storage. The movement was formed to make seniors interested in a concept to get together, socialize, and learn.

Men’s shed has different membership fees, space, and opening hours. Sheds hold different activities, often workshops, to teach other members a new skill. But the great thing about sheds is that one can show up and catch up with other members over tea.

As social beings, people long to be with a group that has the same interests. Seniors often lack the social support they need to lead a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. Since most are already retired and only stay at home, they need to find an outlet to keep their days interesting and productive.

Nowadays, one can find different organizations similar to the Men’s Shed all over the world. The current estimate count worldwide is 1,800. But modern men’s sheds are no longer exclusively catering to senior men.

In 2013, Anthony Bright started a shed in Melbourne after other local sheds turned him down. The reason is that he is still too young, 47 to be exact, at the time. It has now taken off and even welcomes students and female members.

How the Simple Movement Is Bringing Community Members Together

community building

Humans naturally crave the company and support of others. Since the Men’s Shed movement supports just that, it became an excellent venue for those who want to learn new things and meet other people inside the community. It helped bring people together, laugh over coffee, share their expertise, and be around people who have the same interests.

The great thing about sheds is that it helped people, especially senior men, a place where they can go, chat with other people, and feel safe. Indeed, it helped foster a sense of belongingness for elderly adult men who used to be isolated and mostly kept to themselves.

Members of each shed usually know each other. They play a game or chat over tea or coffee and talk about their life, interests, and struggles. They no longer need to stay in their bubble now that they have a bigger network to share their life stories with.

According to a study, lonely and socially isolated people are 32% more likely to die early. But after joining men’s shed, many increased their happiness thanks to the connection they were able to make. They finally found a productive outlet to burn their stress away and are now less lonely.

How Men’s Sheds Are Keeping Up With the Pandemic

The Covid-19 crisis forced sheds around the world to close. Since most men’s sheds have senior members, they had to stop their get-together for their member’s sake. Thankfully, members have adapted to technology to continue communication and create that sense of connection.

Members turn to video calls and chats to check in with each other. Now, they can still support each other while staying at the safety of their home. This makes their members less lonely despite all the health safety measures strictly imposed on seniors.

Men’s Sheds are not your ordinary non-profit organizations. These are helping change the lives of men all over the world, even during the pandemic. It helped fight feelings of isolation and gave older men, especially adults, a new sense of purpose. If we support more organizations like these, we can build more tight-knit communities. All it takes is the willingness to open up to others, share your skills and knowledge, and find others who have the same interests.

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