CBD Men’s Shed needs members and projects

By Tony Thomas, Rotary Club of Central Melbourne Sunrise

Photo: Members Richard Nicholson (left) and Tamir Mirza making toys for kids at the Children’s Hospital

Anyone like to join the newly-opened Men’s Shed in the Federation Square car park? Chairman Alan Seale says men’s shed members, like Rotarians, are all volunteers and the more members the shed has, the easier it is to welcome newcomers, show them the ropes and ensure safe working. “We have 35 members today and are aiming for 100,” Alan says.

As well, the excellent woodworking tools are an opportunity for Rotary Community Service committees to get things made for their local charities, such as outdoor furniture for a women’s refuge, toys for the Royal Children’s Hospital or repairs or renovations to wooden items.

The shed has spent more than $75,000 of State and city grants on good premises and tools, with further funding for the next five years. The shed caters for members with disabilities while maintaining safety standards.

Networker visited the shed in late August. It is particularly difficult to find, being tucked into a couple of rooms on the lowest level of the car park to the east of Fed Square, opposite the car park lift.

Half a dozen men and one woman were busy constructing wooden aeroplanes and trucks for the Children’s Hospital, using top-class drills, thickeners, bandsaws and sawdust extractors. They recently renovated an antique red cedar washstand for a nearby resident as a fund raiser, using the profit to finance consumables.

The shed has taken two years to bring to fruition, partly because of legal complexities between the city and its lessee Fed Square. Currently the shed opens Monday mornings (when the main activity is a guided walk to places like the Botanical Gardens) and Tuesday mornings for carpentry. Hot meals will be served every second Monday from the brand new highly equipped shed kitchen.

The shed now has links with the Heart Foundation and health service providers.

Members pay a $30 joining fee and $55 per annum.

Member Richard Nicholson 75, an ex-engineering lecturer, says it’s great for learning skills on tools. “It’s good to meet other blokes here and relax a bit,” he says. “We’ve been making toys for boys and right now we’re trying to work out what toys for girls we can make.”
Member Tamir Mirza 47, a freelance photographer, is working with Richard on projects. “On Mondays our group goes out on a walk to places like the Botanic Garden, and on Tuesdays we work with the tools,” he says. “Everyone’s friendly and I’m re-learning carpentry skills that I forgot when I left high school. There’s also lots of new things to learn because the tools here are so up-to-date.”

You want to get involved? Contact Alan Seale, aseale@bigpond.net.au or 0407 285 177

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