Online services helps members of Men's Sheds around the country to keep in touch

KEEPING IN TOUCH: Victor Harbor Men's Shed members at their workshop which was opened in 2018.

KEEPING IN TOUCH: Victor Harbor Men's Shed members at their workshop which was opened in 2018.

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.

President of the Victor Harbor Men's Shed Dennis Williams said it was a tough time for everyone and the membership in Victor Harbor is finding the isolation difficult.

"The online initiative is very important, as the biggest issue with members of the Men's Shed is isolation and this is what we are experiencing now with the coronavirus sweeping the world," Mr Williams said.

"We were very concerned about closing, as our membership thrives on interaction, but we are still striving to stay in contact.

"We want to face talk with our members and keep in touch at least once a week."

Victor Harbor Men's Shed has more than 140 members, including approximately 60 regulars who visit between once a fortnight to three times per week.

"Our members just enjoy working and building in the workshop and catching up with other members over a coffee or tea," Mr Williams said.

The AMSA is the national service provider supporting over 1000 Men's Sheds and is recognised as one of Australia's largest male based community development organisations.

AMSA was established in 2007 by the Australian independent community-based Men's Sheds to represent, support and promote the Men's Shed movement.

Victor Harbor Men's Shed.

Victor Harbor Men's Shed.

It was founded on the principle of sharing information between sheds and those communities wishing to establish and operate a Men's Shed. It acts as a central hub for information exchange. Find out more at mensshed.org

AMSA Executive Officer David Helmers said Men's Sheds were an effective initiative because they connected people who would otherwise be socially isolated on a daily basis.

"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," Mr Helmers 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 shed's themselves may be temporarily closed as part of the response to COVID-19, but the mission of helping people stay connected does not change," AMSA Patron David Hurley said.

"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," Mr Helmers said.

This program is being launched globally in partnership with the Irish Men's Shed Association and the International Men's Shed Organisation.

"We hope to create a global social community where men can talk and share their experiences," Mr Helmers said.

"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," Mr Helmers said.

Visit mensshed.org/theshedonline/

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