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Effort underway to bring Men’s Shed movement to Salmon Arm

Information meeting planned for Innovation Centre
Vernon Men’s Shed’s John Laity presents Vernon Girls Trumpet Band members Bobbi-Jo Thompson, Madeleine Taylor and Crysta Whalley with new glockenspiel cases. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Roy Reinmuth has seen first-hand how the camaraderie and sense of purpose that comes with being part of a Men’s Shed can improve one’s mental health.

Prior to moving to Salmon Arm in September 2023, Reinmuth had been involved with a BC Men’s Shed in the Lower Mainland. There, Reinmuth said he would see newcomers show up unhappy but, after a period of time, they would be transformed, happy to have found an outlet for their creative energies.

“A lot of older guys, they fall into depression, they start drinking, drugs, whatever –they become really self-destructive because they have no outlet for that energy…,” said Reinmuth. “I’ve seen it in the shed, how happy the guys are when they are together.”

When he learned Salmon Arm is currently without a Men’s Shed, Reinmuth, wanting to rectify this, called Men’s Shed Association of B.C. president Mike Jensen.

Jensen shared a post on social media to provide some background about Men’s Sheds and to gauge interest in Salmon Arm. From the positive response received, a public information meeting was scheduled at the Innovation Centre, 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Jensen said “camaraderie” and “purpose” are defining words for what Men’s Sheds are about.

“We find the camaraderie and friendship, and the outcome of that is we find something to do for the community, something to do for others, and that’s what gives us purpose,” said Jensen.

Another key word is “respect.”

Read more: North Okanagan men build camaraderie, support

Read more: Men’s Shed hits a high note with Vernon Girls Trumpet Band

Read more: Men make space in Vernon wood shop for She Shed

Jensen explained the Men’s Shed movement began in Australia, as a way to improve the health and well-being of older men.

“Men’s Sheds started in Australia about 30 years ago by a lady who specifically wanted to address male suicide in her community…,” said Jensen, noting there are now about 30,000 Men’s Sheds in the world, with 100 in Canada and 50 in B.C.

“It is to address issues like loneliness, depression, PTSD,” Jensen continued. “We don’t offer any therapy or anything like that. The shed is a therapeutic space where men can share things. It’s a place where it’s easy to make friends. So men will open up.

“They’ll especially open up if they’re working side by side. That’s when they really start to talk to one another. This is what they kind of discovered in Australia and that is what we’re trying to emulate.”

Jensen stressed a Men’s Sheds is a group of men, not a physical space, though having a physical space for the group is, inevitably, a goal.

“The Vernon Men’s Shed, they have a fabulous, 5,000 square-foot workshop with meeting space for their coffee and tea, etc., and beautifully equipped, and they’ve been able to do that… with a lot of help from people who want to see a men’s shed thrive,” said Jensen.

Prior to having its own space, Jensen said the Coquitlam Men’s Shed members were quick to utilize their skills and talents to support their community.

“Before we had our shed we were able to build some garden beds for the local homeless shelter and actually look after the garden for them – so they got fresh produce for the shelter,” said Jensen, adding Men’s Sheds will often collaborate on projects with other community service groups like Rotary.

For Reinmuth, a journeyman blacksmith, a crucial role of Men’s Sheds is the outlet they provide for men to share and pass along their skills to younger generations.

“When I started my apprenticeship, one of the first things I was told was the skills and knowledge we are teaching you are not yours, they are for you to use during your lifetime, but you have to pass them on to the next generation…,” explained Reinmuth who, upon becoming part of a Men’s Shed, saw a vast amount knowledge and skill shared by men needing an outlet, an opportunity to share and/or put their talents to use.

“With one little sentence, one little pointer to an apprentice or young journeyman… they might save that young man 40 years of pain,” said Reinmuth.

While it is common for women to play a role in setting them up, Jensen said Men’s Sheds are for anybody that identifies as a man and are open to all ages. (Jensen noted Women’s Sheds are also growing in number.)

“A lot of people that are part of Men’s Sheds are seniors, and it’s certainly true seniors are the backbone of most Men’s Sheds, but it’s for all men and no skill required – but pretty much everybody has something to offer,” said Jensen.

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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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