These men had 200 members signed up for their men’s shed before they had premises.
Social capital and social infrastructure
Involves the attitude, spirit, shared norms, values, understandings and willingness of people to engage and cooperate in community activities. Over time, social capital builds what is termed social infrastructure, a key element that enables a community to function effectively.
Capacity Building involves efforts aimed at developing human skills or social infrastructures within a men’s shed or community, needed to create a positive and growing community.
Capacity building also includes the development of institutional, financial and other resources such as technology. Capacity Building involves creating the infrastructure so necessary to support needed programs and services for men and their families in a community.
There are many success stories to follow
The following are some of the activities you find associated with existing men’s sheds. Some will do more some will do less. Your role is to help build a men’s shed that can address a range of activities that fit the wants and needs of the members and the community with a degree of consistency. Amongst the various men’s sheds that exist you will find:
- Improvement in men’s health and well-being, with supportive health programs.
- Health workshops for men, their families and their communities.
- Interesting and diversified men’s sheds, with a hundred or more members.
- The transition of small exclusive men’s sheds to inclusive community men’s sheds.
- Facilitating communications amongst men with the ‘coffee shop’ concept.
- Men’s sheds and programs for Indigenous men and their communities.
- Programs for high school students, who were under performing.
- Programs for youth and young men, providing role models.
- Helping young and unemployed people to become job ready.
- Programs for differently abled, disadvantaged and unemployed men.
- Creation of jobs and business opportunities.
- Better community engagement.
- Organising and running community functions.
- Participate in and help with local festivals and other community activities.
- Create, build and install significant tourist products.
- Exhibits at local shows.
- Assist with projects for businesses in the community.
- Provide services to community businesses with unfulfilled wants and needs.
- Provided speakers for various events in the community.
- Conduct Radio and TV interviews and achieving regular coverage in the local press.
- Provide services to widows and pensioners by fixing gates, clothes lines, mowers etc.
- Support wives through health and other crisis that their husbands are experiencing.
- Organise and host bus tours.
- Provide tours of their men’s shed for tourists and interested people.
- Assist in heritage restoration.
- Assist men in visiting doctors and other health professionals.
- Providing respite and care services.
- Help in the prevention of suicide and dealing with trauma cases.
- Members make visits to the local nursing home with animals, mingle with patients.
- Provide the men’s shed’s facilities for other community groups to use.
- Conduct member and community learning programs.
- Make toys and other items for the community and those who are disadvantaged.
Men’s sheds are clearly demonstrating, on a daily basis, that a well-run men’s shed can indeed support a very wide range of activities within the community.
Academics and governments tend to discuss how global forces shape the choices we need to make about our communities, rather than the needs of the real people who live there.
It’s great to think in terms of ‘regional development’ and ‘economic strategies’, but it is the individual choices and actions that are the primary drivers. It is the primary drives, like the men’s sheds that make a difference but they often require a catalyst and support.
Burying our heads in the sand is clearly not the answer to our problems. Men’s sheds are bringing sweeping changes to the welfare and development of communities, particularly in regional, rural and remote communities. The better men’s sheds are having a major impact in their communities and are usually willing to share their experiences.
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You will find that well-run men’s sheds are supporting their communities in many useful and unwell-runs, encouraging community engagement by developing members and supporting active citizenship.
They promote best practices in their community through a grassroots approach to community development, providing tailored support, advice, information and training to new and existing community groups and businesses.
Consider how your men’s shed can participate in economic and environmental activities for the benefit of the men and their communities.
Not all men and not all men’s sheds will be involved in such activities as creating new jobs and nurturing new opportunities and new businesses. However, those that do will find it very rewarding as it helps with the value and sustainability of the men’s shed by making a contribution to improvements in their community.