‘A reason to get out of bed and regain purpose’ - the beauty of Men’s Sheds

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G’day still rings in my ears from three weeks in Queensland. I was told by an Aussie that they are lazy with words.

The simpler and more informal an exchange the better.

The Men's Sheds in Australia are much bigger than our base.

The Men's Sheds in Australia are much bigger than our base.

Why put in the effort to say “Good morning” when G’day will do!

My wife and I, to borrow a phrase, spent the first week with friends on the Gold Coast, with time to visit Men’s Sheds. Specialist tourism! A sad case.

Aussie Sheds are very similar to those in Whitby (unsurprisingly since we copied their idea).

Sheds connect men of all ages, abilities and capabilities in fellowship.

All are actively involved, with the more able helping the lesser. Men regain purpose. There’s a reason to get out of bed to say G’day mates.

Des was a boat builder but now registered blind.

He attends the Shed most weekdays working with a couple of sighted mates on different days. They are his eyes to make toys.

Des’ wife has advanced dementia and doesn’t recognise him. He sees her only in shadows.

Can you imagine what the Shed means to Des? He receives Shed care, and, I’d say, palpable brotherly love.

Sheds are mood and mind changers as we have found, of course.

Aussie Sheds are huge by Whitby standards resourced commonly by local, state and national funding programmes, with a lot of local volunteer commitment.

Leaving the world of Sheds, the next two weeks were spent with the Aussie branch of our family, exploring the Queensland outback and visiting country town staging posts.

We joined the trail of grey nomads with caravans and motor homes travelling to winter warmth, trying to avoid kamikaze kangaroos.

I did not.

It was a Major Mitchell who first explored the region in 1846. How young Australia is! Pioneering is in the Outback DNA.

People depend on their local community, each other, which is why volunteering is normal in community culture.

“Contribute, don’t just take” is a strong social responsibility message and an example to young people.

At the end of our trip I interviewed three women from different parts of Queensland about issues affecting them and family life. This is what they said.

There is a South East to the rest of Queensland divide with, they feel, an unfairly high proportion of state budget allocated to the Brisbane region.

Rural infrastructure (and broadband) is lacking with small towns suffering shop closures.

Some years ago the state government imposed amalgamations on local councils to reduce administrative costs and pool finances.

There are big issues around elderly care, health care and education, with staff retention a problem.

Illegal drug use is rife, with rising crime rates.

There are parallels with divides and issues we might identify with.

There’s no silver bullet from authorities.

We have to take some ownership too and be involved directly in the community jigsaw.

Sheds are an example but not the only one.

Look out for other local voluntary initiatives that place people first and do consider joining in!