While you’re working, you’re in a routine. You leave your home every day and travel to your workplace. It’s not just about earning money. Importantly, without even thinking about it, you are socialising. When it’s been your life since leaving school – for 52 years in my case – you take it all for granted.
Then all of a sudden it’s over, and you’re taking the next step into the unknown. You try to prepare yourself, especially financially, but it’s the social and motivational side of things that pose the biggest challenge. How do you keep active and fill in your time each day? After all, you’ve only retired from work – not from life.
While I was working, I didn’t need to know about the facilities and activities available to older people. So when I retired, I’d heard of Men’s Sheds, but that was all. I turned to Google, typing in different things until I found a site called ‘OM:NI’. ‘What’s that?’, I thought. The brief description got me interested, so I phoned the contact number and was given the details for my local OM:NI groups. I’m now a member of both the Diamond Creek and Doreen OM:NI groups.
I was instantly made welcome, and soon felt at home and part of it all. OM:NI turned out to be just what I was hoping for: good social interaction. It’s very relaxed and casual, with no politics or religion involved. Interaction at an OM:NI group can be whatever you want it to be – from a quiet chat and a coffee with one person to a full group discussion. Sometimes the discussion is a casual ‘What have we all done since the last meeting?’ Other times we focus on a predetermined subject, which might be something serious or just funny stories from the past – whatever the group agrees on.
We take one rule very seriously: ‘What’s said at the meeting stays at the meeting.’ That means you can feel free to discuss personal issues if you feel it will help you. There are no judgements, and advice is only given if you ask for it.
That is why I feel a men’s group is important. I am 100% behind equality and inclusion, but groups like OM:NI give men an important opportunity to speak freely. A lot of men won’t open up in front of women – sometimes not even their wife – especially when it comes to health problems. And you would probably find that a lot of wives are glad to get their husbands out of the house for a couple of hours!
I would recommend OM:NI for any older man. Good company, a good laugh, and a good feeling after you leave.
By Graham M