Women’s shed seeks support

By Colin MacGillivray

WOMEN across the City of Whittlesea will have a chance to learn valuable do-it-yourself home maintenance skills and build new friendships with the formation of a women’s shed.

The shed aims to model itself on the successful network of men’s sheds across Australia, which provide men with a social space in which they can bond with other men while working on handmade craft projects.

Mernda Community House project worker Ash Lee said the proposed women’s shed in the City of Whittlesea would aim to instill confidence in women across the region when it came to DIY projects.

“Before COVID-19 hit, Mernda Community House ran a DIY basic home-maintenance session with Bunnings,” she said.

“Twelve women from various age groups attended, which was great.

“Traditionally women are not associated with maintenance, but what we saw was that women wanted to feel more independent about knowing how to fix things on their own around the house, because many of them lived alone.

“This made us think of starting a women’s shed – a safe space where women can get together to learn practical skills and meet other women.

“We posted on Facebook about this idea and we were surprised at the amount of interest from the community.”

Ms Lee said the shed would have a unique focus on women’s issues and instilling basic skills in its members.

She said women could sometimes feel intimidated by working with tools, but said a desire to learn was clearly present.

“It’s a safe space where women can learn these skills without any judgement,” she said.

“People were pretty happy about it. There were a lot of likes and sharing, and it generated a lot of discussion on Facebook.

“I got a lot of enquiries from women who said they had no practical skills and were wondering if it was still okay to join, which of course it is.

“There are so many women out there who have aspirations to learn something that is considered to be conventionally a men’s area. I think that’s very courageous.”

An information session will be hosted online on Friday, October 30, and Ms Lee said bookings were essential to participate.

The session, which will be from 10am to 11.30am, will feature guest speakers from Alphington Community Centre, which has its own women’s shed program, as well as Mernda Bunnings.

Ms Lee said people who participated in the session could help decide what shape the Mernda women’s shed program took.

“We’re hearing from the community on their aspirations and what skills they can contribute,” she said.

“We will talk about what we want, what the concerns are and any fears people might have, what skills we want to learn and what resources we can contribute.

“It’s not just an information session, it’s an opportunity for people to come and participate in the making of the women’s shed.

“We’re also building partnerships with other community sheds and organisations. Alphington Community Centre has its own women’s shed program and they’ve been really helpful and shared their knowledge with us.

“Mernda Bunnings has also been super supportive with planning basic skill-building workshops.

“Hopefully once we reach a point where women feel confident, then we can start peer-to-peer training like other men’s sheds do.”

Ms Lee said Mernda Community House had already enquired about space at Farm Vigano in South Morang to host the program.

Anyone interested in learning more about the shed or booking a place in the information session can contact Mernda Community House by calling 0475 454 133 or emailing merndach@whittleseacc.org.au.

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