Community stories: 20 March 2019
The Whittlesea Men’s Shed (WMS) in outer northern suburbs of Melbourne was a refuge for many of their members following the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. Men’s Sheds provide a non-threatening and supportive environment for men to come together, share and learn skills, build friendships and contribute to their local community. They relied on the social support and activities of the WMS to develop their resilience and wellness, their strengths and capacities for the future.
And now, six years on, WMS is still an integral part of the Whittlesea community, with membership numbers now nudging the 70s. It continues to support men’s health and wellbeing by providing a safe and busy environment in which they can improve their physical, mental and social health, productivity, self-worth and value to the community.At that time, WMS was still in its fledgling stage, having been established in 2008. In 2013 they applied for and received a GR&W grant to rearrange and relocate workspaces, storage areas and equipment to make way for a growing membership.
Over the past three years, the services of the members of the WMS have increased in demand, primarily because of its ability to provide on-request, quality items such as outdoor furniture, toys and restorations for schools, kindergartens, community centres as well as local community groups and individuals.
This increase in work has resulted in the requirement for the Men’s Shed to increase its stock of suitable timber. This timber is either donated or purchased and unfortunately takes up a large amount of both the current workspace and the area that has been previously used by other community groups. It’s also a potential fire hazard.
WMS received a $19,000 GR&W grant to extend its facilities by constructing an external, secure timber storage facility adjacent to the existing Shed. In doing so, the relocation of the timber has freed up a considerable amount of workspace, which in turn has allowed the members of the community to use the shed as has been done in the past, and for the members to undertake additional work for the community.
This is an important means of supporting community connectedness, social support networks, and encouraging and facilitating engagement and participation of isolated or disadvantaged members of the community, particularly within the male population.