Expo a hit for the Men’s Shed
NERANG'S Country Paradise Parklands was abuzz with more than 300 people from 75 different Men's Sheds across south-east Queensland and Northern NSW recently.
They were there for an expo of all things male-interest, from hobbies to health and, of course, when that many men get together, a barbecue, all organised by the Nerang Men's Shed.
Australian Men's Shed Association event and volunteer coordinator Marty Leist said Men's Sheds had achieved great things through their donations to charity and work for their communities in general.
For many members, he said, rediscovering old interests, learning new skills, developing new passions and new mateships, and the spirit of giving back to the community, were addictive.
Having left work, men found a new and, for many, arguably better purpose, so that instead of retirement being the worst part of their life, it became the best.
Hence, taking nothing away from their concrete achievements, Marty said the work done in the sheds was "the excuse rather than the reason" to get together.
Research has shown that men talk shoulder to shoulder, rather than face to face as women do, so sit men down opposite each other at a table and not a lot will happen. But, Marty said, put a broken lawnmower in the middle and a couple of tools on the table, and the suggestions, comments, jibes and laughs will flow as the men work. With that comes a camaraderie that allows the men to learn from each other, discover new ideas and hobbies and leads onto other topics - including health, emotions and their own life experiences.
"It's breaking down the barriers and letting men know it's okay to not be okay … it's a bit of health by stealth," Marty said.
It also allows the dissemination of information down the years, with older men saying, "I've been there and seen that, and you'll get through it too ..." Not talking about problems, Marty said, and keeping up the traditional Aussie male stereotype of there being strength in silence, had "been a killer of men all over the country".
The hardest thing in many cases was just getting men to set that first foot inside a Men's Shed - with mates or the push of a partner, friend or family, often the impetus.
There are now 930 Men's Sheds Australia-wide, up from about 200 in 2005, and they have been formally recognised by the federal government for their role in addressing social isolation, health and wellbeing.
The Nerang Men's Shed is at Country Paradise Parklands, 231 Beaudesert-Nerang Rd, Nerang. Opening hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8.30am-12.30pm and "drop-ins" are welcome. There is a woodwork shed, with a long list of tools and equipment, and a metalwork shed.
There is also a place for the ladies, with the Sheilas' Shack also on site and now more than 100 members strong. They meet on Thursdays and Saturdays for craft, workshops and bus trips, as well as walking and meditation groups.
To find out more about Nerang Men's Shed, phone president Paul Lennon on 0447 667 606; for the Sheilas' Shack phone 0490 815 790; and to find your closest Men's Shed, go to https://mensshed.org/find-a-shed/ or phone 1300 550 009.