New Wodonga Men’s Shed giving retirees somewhere to belong

SHEDDERS: Members Mick Wait, David Williams, Ken Farrar and David Graves at the Wodonga shed under construction. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS
SHEDDERS: Members Mick Wait, David Williams, Ken Farrar and David Graves at the Wodonga shed under construction. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS

The structure is being set for a new Wodonga Men’s Shed building which will not only offer an improved workshop, but even help save the lives of members.

After the 1274-square-metre shed was constructed on council land in Jamieson Court, plumbing work has just begun and plastering is scheduled for next week.

The spacious new home will be a big step up from the current 9m x 6m shed, which can take only about five of the club’s almost 70 members at a time, while any others there on the day have to work outside.

Committee member Ken Farrar said he expected the membership to grow when the facility was opened.

It will feature wood and metal workshops, a meeting room, kitchen, office and a function room which can also be used by community.

The shed will be a big step up from the club’s humble beginnings in 2008, when members had to meet out on the golf club’s verandah.

Mr Farrar said a lot of men who retired after the age of 65 were left with nothing to do because their lives and friends had been centred around work – often in the same job for decades.

He said women had always been better at maintaining social groups through various activities.

“Men don’t and that’s a real problem,” he said.

“We always hear about the men dying at a younger age than the women and this is one of the causes because they sit down depressed and lonely.

“One of the biggest groups in Australia for taking their own lives are men who have retired and that’s got to stop.

“Our aim is to give the men somewhere to be, something to do and someone to talk to that are interesting and they can talk to, just like their mates at work.”

Elderly men can often avoid getting checked out by a doctor, but Mr Farrar said the men’s shed allowed members to talk about both their physical and mental issues and recommend health professionals if needed.

“Our biggest qualification is that we are men in the same position in life as they are and that’s a big thing because we understand it,” he said. “The outcomes are enormous in the differences it’s made – they trust each other.”

The new shed is being built with $230,000 raised by the club through selling sausages, door-knocking and selling tables and furniture they made, plus a $60,000 Victorian government grant announced last year.

Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos visited the facility this week for a tour and said she was impressed the shed had become so popular.

“We’re helping make room for more shedders to give greater support to men’s health,” she said.