Lake Hume Mens Shed started researching men's sheds in 2002. At the time there were few men's sheds in Australia (maybe 30) and they all operated pretty much in isolation. There were no support networks and little was known, there was also a lot of confusion about what a men's shed was and the 'Industry' was very fragmented. Our research also indicated that there was nothing like what we had in mind, anywhere in the world.
This young man from Grenfell in VIC inspired much of out thinking during the establishment period and is the face we used to 'launch 1,000 men's sheds'.
Col's face graces much of Lake Hume Mens Shed's promotional material - he embodies what Lake Hume Mens Shed is all about
We anointed him as the original 'coffee man' and he is still contributing to our development today.
Col is the epitome of the Aussie mate who is always ready to lend a hand and one feels that when you really need a mate he will be there. His willingness to pass on his life skills makes him a role model for the youth of today.
The big question was, how do you provide quality products and services and support 24 X 7 direct into the men's sheds across Australia? The challenge was also to provide a cohesive network practical, hands-on and unique that could positively impact on men's health and well being.
A unique methodology had to be developed to enhance collaboration, customer service, and to make a men's shed financially stable, without continual handouts from governments and others, which was the expectation. It needed to provide support for a large variety of men's sheds and to address how they could become a valuable and sustainable asset in their community.
Lake Hume Mens Shed needed rapid implementation of an infrastructure for the thousands of communities that could benefit from a men's shed and to keep pricing at an affordable level.
Another challenge was to propagate the Lake Hume Mens Shed concept without it being misunderstood and watered down. Lake Hume Mens Shed needed to be able to integrate with the health and other community services provided by the governments and the private sector as well as overcome any anti-business and anti-entrepreneurial sentiment. These essential factors are so necessary to make things happen at a grass roots level and to achieve outcomes that people are looking for.
The infrastructure needed to be able to manage the mass of information, knowledge, tools, process, checklists, templates and training materials and make it easily accessible to the user without them being overwhelmed. Any systems we use must also allow us to leverage existing materials and skills we have developed over many years.
The ultimate challenge was to be able to give the project our undivided attention and sustain ourselves until people believed that men's sheds held an important key to improving men's health and well being and that Lake Hume Mens Shed had developed what was needed.
In approaching just how we might go about building a premier organisation that could fully support the men's sheds, and provide products and services to assist a men's shed to achieve its objectives; Lake Hume Mens Shed focused on the following:
Pillar 1: Connecting with Men
Pillar 2: Connecting with Health Services
Pillar 3: Connecting with the Community
Pillar 4: Connecting with Business Principles
Pillar 5: Connecting with Economic Gardening Principles
These pillars were designed as a framework to stimulate and provide life changing experiences for men and to facilitate easier start-ups of men's sheds, support those that already exist and to successfully support and improve the capacity of individual men's sheds to become valuable and sustainable assets in their communities.
This resulted in the final outcomes that you see today for delivery of materials into the men's sheds. A Helpdesk for personal service and a Resource Centre that contains and manages all the necessary information, knowledge, tools, processes, checklists, templates, programs, manuals and learning materials and an extensive support Network, all integrated into a National award winning, World Best Practice technology infrastructure.
In 2007 Lake Hume Mens Shed was given a large grant from the Federal Department of Health and Ageing to promote our concept of men's sheds to regional, rural and remote areas in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. We were to look at how the Lake Hume Mens Shed men's shed models might be adapted to meet the needs of the remote areas and Indigenous people and how they would link in with the rest of Australia.
Long, lonely, rough roads but the people are great.
Our original expectations have already been exceeded and in so doing created a lot of interest in men's sheds to provide a vehicle for improving the health and well being of men across Australia and in other countries.
We wish to acknowledge the openness, generosity and friendship of the many people who have welcomed us to their towns and communities and happily shared their history, experiences, ideas and passions.
Lake Hume Mens Shed is a not-for-profit company, limited by guarantee 82329291086. It is a registered Health Charity and has Gift Recipient Deductibility.