Men’s Shed: A community-based, non-profit, non-commercial organisation that is accessible to all men and whose primary activity is the provision of a safe and friendly environment where men are able to work on meaningful projects.
When the amputation of several fingers meant that he had to quit his job, Ashley was left feeling bored and looking for his purpose in life.
Ashley, who Cara works alongside in Home & Community Support in the South East, has always enjoyed tinkering and fixing things, having previously worked at a lawnmower repair shop.
With the encouragement of Cara Support Worker Bruce Potter, a builder by trade, Ashley approached the Port MacDonnell Men’s Shed about becoming a member.
Ashley was immediately welcomed by the other members and attends twice a week.
One year down the track, his Men’s Shed membership has become so important to him, that he refers to it as his work. It’s a place where he can explore his passion for woodwork, hone his skills and work on projects for his home, and his local community, all while joining in the friendly banter and chat between the members.
Ashley’s pride in his involvement at the Men’s Shed shines through his words.
“I really enjoy going to the Men’s Shed, I feel like my opinion is valued there,” Ashley said.
“I am proud of everything that I am doing. At the end of the day when I go home, I am happy.”
A keen cook, some of Ashley’s favourite projects have been creating chopping boards, rolling pins and a bowl that he can use in his home kitchen.
He has also supported bigger projects, including building a number of large pine outdoor settings for a local school.
According to the Australian Government’s Department of Health, Men’s Sheds aim to improve the health and wellbeing of Australian men. They address social isolation and boost men’s mental health in terms of feeling safe, making friends and sharing meaningful activities.
Bruce says that the sense of camaraderie and social aspects of being a part of the Men’s Shed have had a positive impact on Ashley’s wellbeing and sense of self.
“The benefits of what Ashley does at the Men’s Shed have helped him across all aspects of his life, in both his physical and mental wellbeing. He has grown his confidence and he is always smiling,” Bruce said.
“Ashley is an exceptional person, he listens and he genuinely wants to learn.”
Ashley says that the members have become friends. “They understand me and what’s happening, I can’t feel down (sic) if I have so many people to talk to,” he says.
As President Malcolm Hall puts it, Ashley plays an essential role at the Men’s Shed.
“He is always willing to help out. He’s very observant and will often pick up problems, and offer suggestions to others on how projects can be designed,” Malcolm said.
“He’s an integral part of everything that we do. He’s a very valued member of the Men’s Shed and a terrific guy.”
“He was a little bit shy at the start, but now he is one of us and we all think the world of him.”
To link up with your local Men’s Shed visit the Australian Men’s Shed Association: mensshed.org/find-a-shed/
 Australian Men’s Shed Association (mensshed.org)
 Men’s sheds | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care