Ron, a retired musician, had never even heard of a men’s shed. He just figured that he could share how bewildering it had been for him to find opportunities in his community to connect with other guys and participate in meaningful activities. He had tried to start a local music drop-in group at one of the community centres near his home – with little success. He was aware of sports and other programs at the same community centre, but many activities seemed geared towards children and youth. Ron responded to a community newspaper ad, posted by a University of Manitoba research team, inviting guys like him to participate in a focus group on improving programming for men, aged 55 and older. Early evidence suggest that Men’s Sheds offer tremendous potential as a grassroots community programming tool to support men that may be hard to reach through conventional programming.

Visit the Men’s Sheds Canada website for more information.

The research project, funded by Movember Canada, is studying a community approach that has taken Australia and the UK by storm. Men’s sheds are popping up all over the world as older men are clamouring for a place that feels right. Sheds are for older guys who want to spend time with others in a relaxed atmosphere, learn something new, or continue contributing their skills and knowledge – whether they are retired, not working, or still working. A lack of programming and community involvement for older men, especially for those more isolated, can place them at increased risk for depression.

The more Ron heard, the more intrigued he was, and so were many of the other participants in his focus group. Contact information was exchanged, and six of the guys got together afterwards to visit the only local men’s shed in the province, Manitoba Men’s Sheds. It was even better than he expected, and Ron joined the Manitoba Men’s Shed in Winnipeg after his first visit. He just wishes that there were more sheds around the country for Canadian men like him.