The Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA) has launched The AMSA Shed Online to help Shedders stay connected during a period where Australians are being encouraged to stay at home.
“Men’s Sheds are an effective initiative because they connect people who would otherwise be socially isolated on a daily basis,” said AMSA Executive Officer David Helmers. “Australians are becoming more and more physically isolated amidst the current coronavirus emergency – right now we need to find ways to maintain our social connections,” he said.
The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced the closure of Men’s Sheds around the globe. When it comes to older Australians, the influence of social connectedness, or lack thereof, on mortality is comparable to well-known risk factors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
The goal of The AMSA Shed Online is to facilitate an online space where people can connect in the same way they do at the shed – over a cuppa and a laugh.
“The sheds themselves may be temporarily closed as part of the response to COVID-19 but the mission of helping people stay connected does not change,” said AMSA Patron His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd).
“Staying in touch and connected has never been more important.”
The original online shed platform, ‘The Shed Online’, was developed as a collaboration between AMSA and Beyond Blue in 2012. The platform attracted huge participation but was closed down due to lack of funding.
“We have used the original online shed platform as an inspiration to create a simple online space for Australian men to stay connected – as they would in a shed – at a time when community connection is increasingly difficult, but still vitally important to our health and wellbeing,” said Mr Helmers.
This program is being launched globally in partnership with the Irish Men’s Shed Association and the International Mens Shed Organisation.
“We hope to create a global social community where men can talk and share their experiences,” said Mr Helmers.
“There are Men’s Sheds operating in 12 countries now and we are anticipating a global information exchange.”
AMSA is encouraging anyone with an interest to participate in conversations and make meaningful connections on the new platform.
“Whilst The AMSA Shed Online has been built with the Men’s Shed community in mind, we invite anyone with an interest to join the conversation,” said Mr Helmers.