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Mateship improves men’s wellbeing

Villa Maria Base Camp Men’s Shed “feels like home” to 83 year old, Maurie Brown. The Boronia resident has been attending Villa Maria’s Tuesday afternoon Men’s Shed program, run in partnership with Mental Illness Fellowship (MIF), in Wantirna for about three years.
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Villa Maria Base Camp Men’s Shed “feels like home” to 83 year old, Maurie Brown.

The Boronia resident (centred far right) has been attending Villa Maria’s Tuesday afternoon Men’s Shed program, run in partnership with Mental Illness Fellowship (MIF), in Wantirna for about three years.

Men’s Health Week, to be celebrated next week, acknowledges the strengths and contribution men make to the community, as well as raising the profile of their health needs.

Men’s Sheds provide males with a casual and relaxed environment where they can be productive and add value to the community, maintain an active body and mind, and connect socially with others.

Villa Maria’s two Men’s Shed programs offer men the chance to brush up on their woodworking, DIY and home maintenance skills, while forming social bonds with other men in similar roles; caring for someone who has an age related condition, who is living with dementia,  has an acquired brain injury, or a mental health issue. 

Mr Brown says the shed has helped him to cope with the emotional stress of caring for his adult son, who has bipolar disorder. While no longer living with his son, Mr Brown says the six year experience left him with a severe anxiety disorder.

“I try never to miss a session – it’s a bit of a lifeline for me,” Mr Brown said.  “We have a barbeque to start the day with and two hours later we’re still sitting around the table chatting – we bond over our similarity of experiences and needs.  You can sometimes learn to laugh about things that normally might be just killing you emotionally – a problem shared is a problem halved, as they say.”

Mr Brown says the weekly shed sessions, and monthly outings out in the community, helped to restore the balance in his life.

“The men’s shed is like a type of therapy which produces resources to help you manage and live your life.”

Villa Maria carer support worker, Ray Alexander, who also coordinates two Ladies Sheds for female carers, says he plans to open a new program on Fridays; offering older males with a physical disability, who have dementia, or who are frail aged, an outlet to connect and socialise with their peers.

“There’s a real and increasing need there to support men who are either carers or care recipients themselves. Many men in particular who have an acquired physical disability, such as a stroke, can’t work and are looked after by a female carer, so they miss the male companionship – they just like being together,” Mr Alexander says.

Villa Maria is a values based, notforprofit organisation providing quality services and life enhancing opportunities for older people, children and adults with a disability, their families and carers.

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