There are over 930 Men’s Sheds in Australia, and every single one of them is helping save lives and livelihoods, while also providing plenty of big laughs, tall tales and cups of tea.
While they all go about their men’s business in different ways the ideology behind each and every one remains the same according to Tamworth president David Greenland.
“Camaraderie, friendship, fellowship and understanding,” he said.
“It is really about men getting out of the house and spending time with other men, talking about whatever they want to talk about, keeping active, and staying healthy.
“We have got blokes that come up here and go flat out making and fixing things, and then we have others that just drop up for a cup of tea and a chat, and both are great.
The Tamworth Men’s Shed, a handyman’s paradise, took over five years of commitment, planning, funding, and elbow grease before finally throwing its doors open in April 2016, with Geoff Allen as president.
Since then a variety of local blokes have been involved, as well as plenty of benefactors, donating everything from large amounts of funding to tools and equipment, although the new committee are “taking the Shed into the 21st century with a whole new dynamic, and a real focus on community projects.”
“The new committee has really marked a change in what is being done up here,” Mr Greenland said.
“We’ve got new ideas and fresh faces and are looking to get more active in the community.”
The team are already in the process of building dog kennels out of wooden pallets for the Heaven Can Wait animal shelter, and have also built and installed seats and tables for the Tamworth Miniature Railway but are now on the hunt for more.
That is one of the reasons that they are sending a cooee out to Tamworth men to come along and get involved, while the other reason is much more serious – a crisis crippling the nation.
“Often when man retire they can lose their sense of identity and self worth, and when they finish work all the skills they have acquired can go by the wayside and those things can lead to a decline in health, loneliness, and depression,” Mr Greenland said.
“We have to do something to stop Aussie blokes killing themselves, and that can be as simple as getting them out of the house, spending time with other men, and having a chat.”
The new president describes himself as the perfect advertisement for the shed.
A former carpenter, he suffered a stroke and is now paralysed on his right side.
“One day I dropped up here to help a mate who was making a model train, and realised what they had here,” he said.
“I have a disability, I can’t drive, I have a speech impediment but that doesn’t matter.
“I found the skills I had from my working life, from building houses through to the administration of a business could be applied to the Shed.”
Shortly after that first visit he was a regular face at the Shed, and soon found himself on the committee as secretary and treasurer, although since then a fair bit of water has flowed under the bridge before he stepped up into the role of president earlier this year.
With him came the changes, together the new committee organised what they had, and what they needed, the internet was connected, a Facebook page and email was established, and a new community oriented dynamic established.
Major changes were made on the committee to get to this point, although the ever energetic Geoff Allen remains a driving force in the position of vice-president, as well as chief materials scrounger.
He is another walking advertisement of the true value of this simple yet effective organisation, and has seen it grow from the empty paddock beneath Botanical Gardens to what it is today.
“I have always been involved in clubs, I used to be president of the Lions Club, but I was always been involved in community things, even sport,” he said.
“I also used to have a backhoe and bobcat business, so I had a lot of connection in Tamworth, I knew all the suppliers and plumbers and builders.”
For Mr Allen the Men’s Shed isn’t just something to keep him busy, which he needs, but it is also the key to both his mental and physical health.
“I am one of those people that has got to work, I have to do something every day,” he said.
“It is all about friendship and helping people up here, and doing something for the community in a different way to other clubs.
“As you get older you have to keep active – if you keep your body moving then your mind follows, otherwise you end up sitting around just waiting for God.
“I have seen big changes in men from the first time they visit to six months in, it is remarkable.”
Publicity officer Mark Smith is now calling on the community to keep the men busy, and the shed full of friendly faces with anyone welcome between the ages of “18 and 108.”
“We want to get the message out that all men can get something out of this – we are a bunch of good blokes too,” he said.
“We also want the community to use our services – if they have a broken chair, or wardrobe or anything give us a call and we can check it out.
“We are also looking for community projects to get involved in as well.”
The Shed is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9.30am until 1.30pm.