Women’s shed – building self-reliance
Early last year, fifteen local women joined a pilot program at Ben’s Shed in Yarra Junction to learn the art and craft of woodwork.
Trudy Nisbet signed up to the program seeing the opportunity for self-reliance as a major benefit. ‘I have always been keen to understand the tools and have the knowledge to fix things myself,’ she says. ‘Before the Women’s Shed there wasn’t anywhere I could do that.’
With the basic training completed, Trudy now attends the women’s shed every Friday and she is working several projects including ottomans for her lounge room, chicken roosting boxes, a letterbox, storage boxes and a bird feeder. Each week is also an opportunity to build friendships with the other women, and with the regular Ben’s Shed members who pop in to assist if needed.
Philip Ashley, who leads the Women’s Shed, retired from a career in teaching carpentry and woodwork at TAFE and started to volunteer at Ben’s Shed two years ago.
Phil is keen for people to understand that a men’s shed is ‘not just for retirees’. While the men’s program is a popular means of providing a social and practical outlet for men, he highlights the schools program and women’s shed as two key community engagement programs.
‘These programs bring people together who might not otherwise have a chance to learn basic tool handling skills and safety guidelines. All the materials are supplied and there is always someone to show others the way.’
Phil also acknowledges the commitment of the women. He sees the quality of the projects as testament to their adaptability and dedication.
New participants are always welcome and sessions run morning and afternoon on a come-as-you-please basis. Over the years, the Community Bank has funded a range of projects to support Ben’s Shed. The Women’s Shed is a great model for inclusiveness and the benefits of sharing resources.
Membership is a $10 initial joining fee and $35 a year (tuition is free).
More Info: www.facebook.com/bensshed