Men’s Sheds is a volunteer based organisation that aims to combat loneliness in men, in productive ways.
It was an initiative originally started in Australia, that has now spread to the UK, Ireland, the United States, and New Zealand. Loneliness in older men has become prevalent in western countries, which is why there is a need for initiatives like this one to combat the problem. The 2005 Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing found that friendships can increase life expectancy by up to 22%. Men’s Sheds support the social well-being of men, as well as their physical well-being, in encouraging longer life expectancy.
Men’s Sheds are places for men in the community to go and work together on practical projects which benefit the community. This allows men to come together and feel a part of something, and create friendships in a productive environment. As older men, particularly after retirement, can often become isolated, with a lack of activities in the community which appeal to them, this initiative works for them. It provides something they are interested in, allowing them to use their hands and share their skills. This then works to provide a range of benefits, such as decreasing loneliness, and increasing productivity in the community.
There are now Sheds in every region of New Zealand, from Kaitaia in Northland, to Lumsden in Southland. The Whangarei shed recently purchased the old railway station, which had become heavily dilapidated, and are now in the process of restoring the historic building, to use as their new ‘shed’ for carrying out other projects. A now completed project of this shed, was building custom pest traps for Kiwi Coast groups. The projects of the Whangarei shed, have not only benefited their region, but allowed these men to bond while working together for their community.
Men’s Sheds provide a unique environment for men to come together, share their skills to benefit their community, and create friendships. MENZSHEDS New Zealand are the central contact point for all sheds in the country. If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, or have a family member who you think may benefit from joining a shed, check out the MENZSHEDS’s website to find a shed near you.