Should You Join a MenzShed?

Since forever, men from Kaitaia to Bluff have been disappearing into their sheds to fix things, get creative, or simply to recharge after a full day.

But over the past few years the traditional concept of the men’s shed has undergone a revolution and nowadays men of all ages and abilities are heading to the neighbourhood MenzShed for anything from connecting with other males to engaging in activities that have been shown to increase quality of life, and everything inbetween.

The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia in the mid-1990s but has since spread across the world like an Aussie bushfire, with Canterbury alone boasting 22 MenzSheds.

There are many reasons why men join a Shed but the findings of a landmark study undertaken last year in Australia identified significant life changes as a trigger. Common factors included retirement, health challenges, and changing family circumstances such as the loss of a spouse, divorce, or relocation to a new area.

Perhaps more illuminating is the reason so many have become dedicated Shedders (men who belong to a Shed); men actually look forward to discussing feelings and wellbeing as long as the context and environment are right. And as the swelling ranks of the legion of Shedders proves, the camaraderie and setting of a Shed is perfect.

According to the Men’s Sheds in Australia 2013 report, the supportive nature of the Shed environment helps males cope during times of stressful change.

The study also found that Shedders benefited from significantly higher physical functioning, physical roles, general health, vitality, and mental health than a similar group of men who didn’t belong to a Shed. All of which are good reasons to consider joining one even if you’re daunted by the prospect of getting in touch with your feelings!

Because of the obvious health and safety risks present in workshops, men living with MS or Parkinson’s need first to establish whether there are any Sheds in their area that are able to support their specific level of physical ability.

This might require some phoning around, site inspections, candid discussion and some creative problem solving, like being accompanied by a carer who can assist you as required or finding a role in the group that matches your skills and level of capability.