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Shoulder-to-shoulder for men’s health

A ‘stick library' — a wood box full of small branches and balls for dogs to ‘borrow’ at the park — sits on a work bench inside the Rowville Men’s Shed.

Founding member and president Michael Walters picks up a stick and jokes, “This one’s for the Rowville branch.”

The retired fitter and turner says the Shed brings joy to members as well as the community.

“The reward is doing a community job,” he says. “We do a lot of community projects for kinders and schools and organisations like the CFA and SES.”

Miniature wooden fire trucks are among the projects being undertaken by ‘Shedders’ for local brigades to use at events. Others include chicken coops and a mud kitchen for schools.

Like most Sheds, Rowville focuses on men’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. 

“Men aren’t great at looking after themselves,” Michael says. “I think mental and physical health is a matter of being active and staying active. Being with a group of people, socialising, and interaction with people is very, very good for the mind. Men are better at working shoulder-to-shoulder rather than face-to-face, and that’s typically what happens in a Men’s Shed.

“It’s a social outlet. It’s somewhere where they can be part of something, be involved in something and be able to talk to people and get out of the house and feel like you’ve got something done by the end of the day.”

Council supports the Shed through grants for things like computer equipment, a health and wellbeing seminar and beekeeping equipment. Supporting the Shed’s services, facilities and programs is one of the actions under Council’s Mental Health Action Plan.

On a white board, the men have recorded their 13kg honey harvest from bees housed in two wooden hives out the back.

“I put it to the guys and said, ‘Anyone interested in having bees,’ and they were quite hesitant,” Michael says. “I explained that there’s several points to having bees: you learn a little bit about the life cycle of bees and you become a little bit more environment conscious. But if you don’t want to put your head in the hive and see what’s going on, there’s always the honey harvest and building the beehives.”

Rowville is an inclusive shed also open to women. It runs classes for Women in Workshops and also provides space for the Knox Repair Cafe.

Michael picks up a sculpture he’s welded of a griffin, a legendary creature embodying a lion and eagle.

“Griffins are traditionally guardians of precious things in Greek mythology — it’s holding a gold bar in its foot,” he says. “The start of this was a pile of horseshoes I bought from Knox Recycle Centre many, many years ago and I was sitting in the corner of the garage and I thought I’ll make something out of them one day.”

The griffin takes its rightful place atop a workbench watching over the Shed – something precious indeed.

For more information visit rowvillemensshed.org.au
 

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