A new men’s organization on the island is seeking tool and materials donations — and, even more importantly — new members.
The Salt Spring Men’s Shed officially opened its workshop doors Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 154 Kings Lane — a location being provided by the Gulf Islands Seniors Residence Association (GISRA). It’s part of a larger, global movement of creating such spaces, designed to provide men with “somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to” – all the while contributing to the wider community by building and fixing things.
There are more than 2,800 Men’s Sheds worldwide according to the Men’s Shed Association of British Columbia. Salt Spring’s will be one of more than 20 planned or in service within the province.
“Friendships will be made here,” said founder Tristan Laurillard. “Our members are good men — happy to chat, work on a creative project together or build something useful for the community.”
Men’s Sheds are described as places for men to work alongside one another — fixing, building, sometimes just tinkering — and to socialize. Many (but by no means all) Men’s Shed members are retired, often at an age when they begin to miss the sense of collaboration and purpose jobs once provided. In countries such as Australia and Ireland, according to organizers, Men’s Sheds are included in national public health strategies — staving off social isolation or various stigmas associated with health conditions and/or aging.
Organizers say the sheds are also an opportunity to learn or pass along skills, and be truly useful for the community. From park benches to tiny libraries to wheelchair ramps, the Salt Spring Men’s Shed is on the lookout for people and projects where their skills can be of assistance.
“The support we have received thus far has been tremendous,” said Laurillard. “People really want to help with making this project happen.”
He said that in addition to funding from the Salt Spring Island Foundation and United Way of BC, letters of support have poured in from local MP Elizabeth May, the Salt Spring Community Health Society, Salt Spring Community Services, GISRA, the Wagon Wheel Housing Society, and other agencies.
For more information, to donate or to join, call the shed at 250-999-1033 or visit the www.saltspringmensshed.ca website.