New Pentictonite hopes to bring "Men's Shed" movement to the city

'Health by stealth' for men

A new Penticton resident is hoping to spread the success of the "Men's Shed" movement to his new home, after seeing it work to connect men in friendship and collaboration.

Ben Last recently moved to Penticton, and used to be involved in the Men's Shed in Prince George. The Men's Shed movement originally started in Australia in the 1990s and has since spread around the globe.

The idea is a space for men to gather and work "shoulder-to-shoulder" on projects, sharing skills and knowledge, building friendship, and increasing physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Nearly 20 Men's Sheds are now in British Columbia, with over 2,000 members collectively, seeing men of all ages from 18 and up make connections.

"Usually there's a crafting component, so woodworking is really common. Some will be music or just coffee groups or like mechanic stuff, a lot of carving goes on," Last explained.

While the idea was originally aimed at seniors, particularly men who may have lost spouses or members of their social group who are at higher risk of isolation and related health issues, Last says it's for everyone. He himself is 31, and got a lot of benefit out of the group in Prince George.

"The idea behind it is that men work better shoulder to shoulder rather than face to face. And one of the expressions used is 'health by stealth.' So in these meetings, stuff on mental health will come up in sort of this natural way," Last said.

Last is now in the early stages of setting up a Penticton Shed, looking for anyone who wants to get involved in organization or anyone who wants to be a member.

They currently have a group running Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Blue Heron Restaurant at the Penticton Golf Course, and any interested men are welcome to attend. Golf course staff will direct them to the group.

Last is also working on setting up a Saturday meetup. The first three meetups are free to attend, then there will be a $35 membership fee for a calendar year.

"Once we get a bit more established, we'll be able to apply for a $10,000 grant through United Way. And my vision for it is that we start being able to contribute to community projects," Last said ?— the Vernon Men's Shed, for example, regularly provide carpentry, crafting and volunteer work to local initiatives.

Anyone in Penticton wanting to get involved can reach out to Last at [email protected], or follow them on Facebook here.

Learn more about the Men's Shed movement in general below:

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