Men's Shed has a mission to reduce social isolation by providing camaraderie, skills and support.

Closeup of mid 30's carpenter sanding a piece of wood. He's blowing sawdust after few strokes. Back lit, oned image.

All around Australia, Men's Sheds provide a welcoming social environment for men from all walks of life, who come together for camaraderie, new skills, health support, or to tinker with that DIY project.

In Buderim on the Sunshine Coast, the local Men's Shed has benefited from funds received through the Medibank Community Grants program. With a goal of improving men's health – physical, mental and emotional – the Shed has created programs focusing on nutrition and exercise, and the grant has allowed in-house cooking classes and weekly meal programs to be set up.

We had a chat with Buderim Men’s Shed Vice President Barry Cheales, to find out more about how the Shed is making a difference in the community.

How did Buderim Men’s Shed come about?

The Buderim Rotary Club instigated the concept in late 2010 when they were looking for a local project to improve men’s health. Initially, Buderim Men’s Shed was a small group of about 40 men. This has continued to grow and the number of financial members is now around 250-300, making it the largest of the 1,000 Men’s Sheds in Australia.

What are the aims of the Shed?

Our aims are to improve the health of men on the Sunshine Coast. This includes physical, mental and emotional health. A major aim is to reduce problems associated with social isolation, particularly depression and alcohol abuse. The Shed does this by providing activities for men to enjoy, whether it’s large and complex projects or just a place where they can come for a cup of tea and a chat. A Health and Wellbeing Committee also checks on the progress of health issues of members and their partners, and organises visits and any assistance required.

The Shed also provides a service to the broader community by making and repairing items.

Who visits the Shed?

Our members are encouraged to visit the Shed as often as they want to. There are a number of activities running at the Shed and each activity has a group leader and operates in a specific area at set times during the week. We currently have over 25 activity groups that attract anywhere between a couple of members to over 30.

Our members come from all possible backgrounds from senior managers and professionals to tradesmen, and almost all are fully or largely retired. The average age of members is 72 years with a range over men in their 30s to over 90.

“Surveys show that our members like the freedom to come whenever they feel like it, and the friendship and camaraderie they find at the Shed.”

What activities happen at the Shed?

There is a huge range of activities on offer, from traditional woodworking, wood turning, toy making, metal work and gardening to discussion groups, music, lead lighting, wood carving and art.

Our most popular groups include computer education (beginner and advanced), woodworking, metal work, physical fitness, furniture restoration, sport and recreation.

What do men love about the Shed?

Surveys show that our members like the freedom to come whenever they feel like it, and the friendship and camaraderie they find at the Shed. They also have the opportunity to give back to the community and complete their own projects. Through our surveys, we know that there is a marked improvement in overall satisfaction of life after joining the Shed.

How did the Medibank Community Fund assist you in reaching your aims?

The Medibank grant has allowed the Shed to develop a number of new initiatives in the health field. We have established a physical fitness program, ‘Shed Strong’, and employed health professionals to assist with its set up and running, and developed our nutrition program.

‘Shed Strong’ incorporates a fully equipped gym and the program has been running for three months. Currently 20-30 men are enrolled, participating in a supervised and structured exercise program three mornings a week.

Even though the program has only been running for a short time, members are already reporting positive health outcomes such as reductions in blood sugar levels, better balance and encouragement to do extra exercise such as daily walking.

Learn more about Men's Shed and find a location near you.

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