in a nutshell
Members commit to supporting each other reaching out to other older men in the community. Members share the common “Hidden Hardships” of retirement and growing older.
Hidden Hardships DVD
(external link will open in new window)
Members must agree to the purpose of the group to create ownership and a sense of belonging. Volunteering, mentoring youth, visiting hospitals or aged care facilities are activities that are meaningful.
How do I find Members
Members make a choice to get involved based on the purpose of the group. Ways to promote your group include flyers, other community groups, newsletter/newspapers, personal invitations or media releases.
Our first meeting
Organise a central location, and where possible provide light refreshments. Name badges are important. We list the topics further down the page that need to be addressed at this stage.
the aim of your group
To create Member led or Peer Support networks of older men who genuinely care about the welfare of each other, and who reach out to support other older men in the community.
At TOMNET, our Members commit to ‘Older Men Supporting Older Men’ – we achieve this through networks of peer support and community care programs of Aged Care Visitation, Home Visitation, Affiliate Peer Group Support, Mentoring Disadvantaged Youth, and Telephone Support to isolated Members in our communities.
Our peer support groups reconnect older men with their peers, fostering an environment of social and emotional support on a regular basis. Our Members have in common the challenges of hidden hardships of older men – dealing with retirement, the grief of losing a partner, loss of work & social networks, loss of purpose and identity, health issues and moving to a new town.
Through peer support, TOMNET Members rediscover productive lives, regain purpose, the ability to connect, and contribute to the community.
What is your purpose
It is important the group agrees on the purpose as it creates group ownership and sense of belonging. Without this critical step, commitment is likely to wane quickly.
To identify the potential purpose of your group, some options you could consider include:
- Are you willing to adopt the ‘older men supporting older men’ model in your community? If so, what ways could you support older men locally?
- Could you adopt a TOMNET Volunteer Program that meets a need in your community?
- Is there a volunteering opportunity as a group you can participate in? e.g. volunteering to look after the hospital gardens, or provide books to patients?
- Is there a common skill set amongst your group that you could share with your community?
Each group has a different style or format based on their community’s needs.
How do I find Members?
- Present the ‘need’ for a group, and the TOMNET model to Community Organisations and local groups.
- A flyer or media release for your local paper are available as a resource to assist.
- Personal invitations are quite successful, along with asking community organisations to support and encourage those in their networks.
Potential Members are encouraged to make up their own mind whether to join or not, as your group won’t suit all. Men are encouraged to take as much time as they need to get a ‘feel’ about TOMNET prior to making a commitment. There is never any pressure or coercion into becoming a Member, and Membership will always remain voluntary.
your first meeting
Find a central location to meet, including community centre, library, or local hall.
Where possible, provide light refreshments and encourage all those who attend to wear a name badge (even a temporary label is sufficient) – it’s a great way to break the ice.
At the outset, it is very important to get ‘buy in’ for the purpose of the group. It is a very important step in creating ownership – which will encourage Members to continue to participate and commit longer term.
During the first meeting, consider discussing the following points and remember that the purpose of the group may change as it evolves:
- Discuss the need for the group in the community.
- Ask Members if they can share any stories to support this.
- Ask each Member to introduce themselves as they speak.
The 12 month plan (below) will help with these questions
- Shared vision: having a shared vision of where the group was headed reduced conflict in the early stages and created a joint commitment to achieving that vision.
- Managing the expectations of Members as to the purpose and code of conduct of the group.
- Establishing an environment of non-judgement, empathy and support was paramount to encourage self-disclosure to occur.
- Self-disclosure occurred when peers were treated with dignity and respect, with equality and compassion and support.
- Leadership style: a democratic style works best in building teams because of its cooperative emphasis.
- Time availability: it is crucial that the group make the time available with their group and have the ability to be flexible.
- Group tasks lend themselves to cooperatively work together.
For a full list of tips and tricks download the full document here:
Download the “Setup a group” Resource (2mb)
the 12 month plan
Provide each Member with a copy of the 12 month plan template to take home to consider. It is an important tool to ensure everybody’s ideas are valued. However, it is important to help them realise that not all ideas can be actioned at once, and a list of priorities will be developed. Your group should then revisit this plan regularly.
Set the next meeting date and time. The 2nd meeting will focus on developing the 12 month plan.
Ask if they are willing to leave their contact details with you (template provided).
We have developed a template listing the items to consider to make the plan a reality.
Need support to set up your own group?
TOMNET’s practical guide to establish a Men’s group in your local community – call TOMNET for a copy.
The TOMNET Handshake
The frequent use of a handshake among TOMNET men has become more than a simple greeting. It is a powerful gesture of mateship. It is a sign of substance where each man behind the hand matters; where mutual recognition as a man and a mate is shared and valued. A handshake also indicates that permission has been granted to be accepted, and is in a trusted zone. Men indicate warmth and potential friendship through the use of a firm handshake. It is the signature of TOMNET amongst Members.