It’s a Tuesday morning at the Melbourne Men’s Shed, tucked away underneath Federation Square, where the sounds of the city make way for laughter, hammers and drills.
Today, following their regular morning coffee and chat, members are busy making toys for the Royal Children’s Hospital or ‘just waiting for the glue to dry’ on various woodwork projects.
Secretary John Howarth is helping his daughter prepare materials for her primary school art class.
‘One of the best things about the Men’s Shed is its proximity to where we live,’ John said.
‘We also have a magnificent workshop set up with precision tools, which allows you to do things that you couldn’t possibly do in your own shed with limited resources and space.
‘Of course, it’s also about conversation, friendship, the exchange of ideas, solving problems among ourselves and just good fun.’
The community spirit of the group has seen the Men’s Shed form partnerships with organisations like The Big Issue and Wildlife Victoria, making everything from giant jenga sets to possum boxes.
Chairman Andrew Stefanetti said that the group also enjoys walks and workshops that capitalise the unique skills of its growing network and promote health and wellbeing.
‘This is a place where you can come and do something creative.’
‘Our popular cooking program aims to teach us how to cook and eat healthily through simple recipes. In recent weeks, we’ve made and shared pizza, pancakes and Vietnamese rice paper rolls,’ Andrew said.
‘What I enjoy most is that the classes build up a social atmosphere through the day and beyond.’
Despite the name, the Men’s Shed is inclusive to men and women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Today there’s a retired engineer, a geologist, a photographer and an IT guru in the workshop.
Several members say that they missed having space to create after retiring to smaller city dwellings. For them, the Men’s Shed has become an updated version of the classic Australian backyard shed.
‘There are a lot of people living in apartments, looking at the four square walls or out at the city skyline. This is a place where you can come and do something creative,’ John said.
‘If you’ve got an interest in woodwork, cooking or socialising – or you’re just looking for a place to come for a change of scenery – come along and join us.
‘The more members we have, the richer the experience the Men’s Shed can offer. We’ll teach you and you’ll teach us. It’s a two way street,’ John said.
Find out more about the Men’s Shed
The Melbourne Men’s Shed was established with funding from the City of Melbourne and the State Government.
The Melbourne Men’s Shed is located at level one of the Federation Square car park, accessible either by the carpark lift or via a doorway from Princes Walk, on the riverside at Birrarung Marr.
The Men’s Shed is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 10am to 2pm and Wednesday evenings from 5pm to 9pm.
For more information, visit social support.