SHARING THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF LIFE THROUGH COMMUNITY, CAMARADERIE, CONNECTION, AND CONVERSATION
The first Men’s Table took place in Sydney in 2011 and the 12 men present have met once a month for dinner ever since. The meetings eventually initiated a not-for-profit organisation that creates a unique environment for men to openly share with other men their feelings, challenges, and highs and lows.
The Men’s Table engenders trust and respect. It creates a sense of belonging, community, peer support, and camaraderie that is lacking for many men, even for some who already have a group of mates.
These gatherings have expanded across Australia to help men meet others. The Men’s Table sets up local meeting points for men to widen their social circle and chat about “stuff” over dinner. And now Upper Hunter men can take a seat at the table in Scone or Muswellbrook.
As part of the expansion of the program across NSW, the program launched in Scone and Muswellbrook at the end of August with outstanding attendance. The meetings are testament to the incredible popularity of the events.
There are now 145 Men’s Tables Australia-wide – 100 in NSW – and the program has established 58 Tables in regional towns since February 2019. Up to 1000 men join the Tables in any month. The average age of participants ranges from about 45 years to 65.
Program spokesperson Anthony Garnham told @The Coal Face recently that men sit at the table for many reasons. These include the desire to be in a community of peers or the opportunity to “give back”. It might be something as simple as moving house, or they’re suffering loss or experiencing financial stress, family issues, or personal struggles.
“Navigating life can be tough if you do it alone,” Mr Garnham said. “Some men come to The Men’s Table for a supportive community. Some look to give support and some just come as an insurance policy for when times are tough.
“There is a lot of enthusiasm in regional and rural areas. The spirit in the room has been palpable – not just a man coming for himself, but for others. In transitioning communities, there is uncertainty about the future and having guys to share concerns with is important – just a chance to come together.”
The 2022 Community Impact Report noted 81% of men said there was a positive ripple effect to relationships beyond their Table, and 76% of men said they felt a sense of community belonging. Most men agreed the benefits of The Men’s Table include the provision of a safe place to share feelings and be vulnerable and to experience connection, wellbeing, and healthy masculinity.
Locally, Men’s Tables are running successfully in the Lower Hunter, Narrabri, Tamworth (two), and Armidale (three) and now in Muswellbrook and Scone.
“The first step towards a Table can be nerve-wracking and it can take real courage,” he said. “I stumbled across one of the founders in a local event, having just moved to the area looking for a friend. Within one month I was working with him.
“There are no psychologists in the group – unless they are there by choice. We have a good yarn and a feed and get to meet other fellows. We encourage men not to talk about things like footy and politics – just talk about how they’re feeling and what’s going on for them.”
To register or for more information: https://themenstable.org/
Or contact Anthony Garnham directly on 0411 311 214