Elderly socially isolated men are four times more likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts.
It is a chilling statistic but no less true according to study compiled by the Central Sydney Area Health Service.
Canterbury City Community Centre is working to turn around that figure with their Men’s Shed program which has been running since 2007.
An ongoing community project, the Canterbury Men’s Shed is a place where men aged 55 years and over gather together for woodworking and craft activities while at the same time creating opportunities for conversation in a safe and supportive environment.
Located in its own fully equipped workshop in Clissold Parade Campsie, the number of members has grown strongly since their initial start operating out of Canterbury Boys High School’s wood work room. However increased costs of operations and cutbacks in funding have made it difficult to expand Shed membership and activities.
The Shed runs on funding from the Canterbury City Community Centre, sales of their wood and toy projects and local business donations such as the $12,000 recently contributed by Canterbury League Club through the ClubGrants program.
“Canterbury League Club is proud to help out with a program that does so much for men’s health within our community. Men should have a space where they feel comfortable to speak about their issues without fear or judgement or stigma because it is something many other men are going through as well,” said Dr George Peponis OAM, President of Canterbury League Club.
Asides from providing a space for older men of the community to gather, the shed also holds mentoring programs to students from local schools; Belmore Boys High School and Condell Park High School.
This collaboration arranged by Creating Brighter Career Connections (CBCC), a not-for-profit organisation supporting the engagement of young people in education, connects boys at risk of dropping out of school early to positive male mentors and expose them to alternative learning and training opportunities.
“The program has been very successful as 75 per cent of the boys have either stayed in school or gone onto further training and employment,” said Glenn Harding, Canterbury Men’s Shed Coordinator.
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