The Australian Men’s Shed Association (ASMA) is a dedicated not-for-profit organisation founded in 2007. Its primary aim is to promote the spread of independent Men’s Sheds across Australia. Most often these sheds are divided by neighbourhood groups, yet some still cater towards different communities, such as elderly gay, or Aboriginal men. For many older men across the nation, these local sheds serve as vital centres of social interaction.
The Breakfast Point Men’s Shed (BPMS) is one such group. It has a dedicated membership of sixty men, the eldest a spritely 94. I was immediately attracted to volunteer for this organisation, drawn by its central goal. The Shed itself describes their desire to:
‘promote social interaction amongst older people through a range of activities that build friendships and camaraderie’
For the community members of Breakfast Point the Shed is shared space to talk, remember, and create. Fundamentally, this serves to improve the lives of the men involved, keeping them socially and physically engaged well into old age. My visit to the organisation during their weekly coffee meeting certainly illuminated this supportive atmosphere. The rate of in-jokes and playful jests between the members was startling, it was hard to keep up! The strong bonds that the Shed had facilitated between them was self evident.
Breakfast Points’ primary work revolves around the creation of useful items for their wider community. Recently, the men created stroke rehabilitation equipment for both Concord and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Other projects have also included the construction of play furniture for nearby preschools. Elsewhere, the men bond over meals, fundraising events, bike rides or card games.
Although the history of the organisation itself is brief, as residents of Breakfast Point, the men have a clear interest in what resided within their location before their existence. One of the first things I was informed about was the Shed’s past utility as a weigh-bridge for trucks bringing supplies to and from the local Gasworks. I am excited at the possibilities to uncover more about Breakfast Points’ past, and indeed the lives of the men themselves.
You can’t help but smile and laugh whilst at the Breakfast Point’s Men Shed. Its charm resides within the positive, supportive members that compose it. As Jerry, a Breakfast Point member put: “if you’re not a joker before entering the Shed, you will be in short time.” Its safe to say that I am thrilled to work with such an accommodating, giving and enthusiastic organisation.