Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
The resolution of issues causing frequent flooding of the carpark for the Burrum District Community’s Men’s Shed in Howard, QLD, has enabled more seniors to have safe access to opportunities to learn new skills with like-minded community members.
The carpark was flooding constantly due to weather issues and stormwater runoff, making access to steps and a ramp difficult for senior members, meaning some were not able to visit the shed.
A $2,200 FRRR Strengthening Rural Communities grant funded drainage and an all-weather carpark. Members also contributed by pitching in to clean up weeds – a project that need to be repeated when the project was stalled due to COVID-19 closures of the facility.
Burrum District Community Men’s Shed President Mark Wake said the facility provides a safe, friendly and healing environment with the emphasis on men’s health and encouraging social inclusion. Members can work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time and in the company of others.
“The shed provides a friendly, relaxing environment that encourages men and assists with social isolation. It also provides support in times of bereavement, ill health, redundancy and other life changing events,” he said.
“The success of this project will see our shed becoming a welcoming environment in any weather as a drop-in centre for lonely, isolated men in the community,” Mr Wake said.
Among the improvements are access to the main shed during inclement weather, wheelchair access to the ramp and access to the metal work shed. An additional benefit was an increase in usable off-street parking leading to an increase in membership and community members inquiring about other services such as woodwork lessons.
The small town of Kilkivan in Queensland, 50 km west of Gympie, is served by the hardworking Kilkivan Veteran’s and Community Men’s Shed Association Inc.
Since 2017, the group has been involved in many local projects. They have developed community gardens, managed re-generative tree projects along creek lines (and seen an increase in frog numbers!), and now manage a PA system that is regularly used for community functions, which was funded by an FRRR grant.
Cutting grass, emissions and hassle
The Association, which has seven committee members and 20 volunteer members, also operates the Rural Assist program, the first voluntary support service in the community focused on local seniors. Despite experiencing the effects of drought, the grass still grows and the elderly residents find it difficult to control.
Members are regularly called upon to mow lawns and assist older people with their gardens and, at the time of applying for an FRRR grant, they were set to take on upkeep of the Medical Centre’s grounds. They therefore thought it was about time that they purchased a ride on mower, instead of members using their own equipment!
A recent arrival on the Australian market, the Bushranger E-rider 72V 30″ cut unit was deemed ideal. It is designed for small to medium size areas and can be used by persons with mild disabilities, under supervision.
“This mower would greatly assist us during the summer (wet season) period when the grass grows as you look at it,” wrote Secretary, Treasurer and Founder of the group, David Timperley in the application.
Purchased in April 2020, using a Strengthening Rural Communities grant of $3,699 funded by the Sylvia & Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation, the group has reported the new electric mower is quiet, very easy to operate, and good for safe use around senior residents, who are vulnerable to fumes from petrol driven equipment. They estimate at least 50 seniors will benefit from the purchase.
Meanwhile, progress on the ‘Shed’ continued steadily
The Committee has been diligently working towards having their own Shed for several years. Their vision was that it would provide a space for woodwork, metal work, cooking and other craft activities for both men and women in the area, many of whom feel isolated and impacted by the hardships of continuous drought.
They planned in detail to ensure that the space was inclusive, accessible and useful. In 2020, a grant of $55,105 through FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program contributed to the fit-out of the facility, especially the welfare area.
“It is important for the Kilkivan Veteran’s and Community Men’s Shed through its growth to have its own equipment supported by organisations that can help us in our infancy. Although we have been fund raising over the past 3.5 years we have only just been able to have our shed erected. The town has a high level of seniors in our demographic make up. These seniors are very supportive in the work we are doing and the help we provide, however difficult it maybe voluntarily to provide fit and healthy members. This equipment will allow others under supervision and with disabilities to take part in our activities safely. We thank FRRR and The Sylvia & Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation, Equity Trustees for their support.”David Timperley, Treasurer and Founder
In mid 2021, we caught up with David and Bella Timperley who gave us a tour of the shed and talk about their experience getting grants and achieving their aims as a not-for-profit community organisation in rural Queensland.
Watch the video below.