GOOD NEWS: Member for Fairfax Ted O'Brien with very happy members of the Maroochy Men's Shed.
GOOD NEWS: Member for Fairfax Ted O'Brien with very happy members of the Maroochy Men's Shed.

Top Men's Shed start to new year

FOR a lot of Coast men, the Maroochy Men's Shed is their 'living room' where they can have a relaxed yarn about anything that interests them.

For the last six years the 90 or so members have been meeting inside a cramped space at the back of a member's business in Kuluin. That will change by the middle of this year as a result of the community group receiving $450,000 from the Federal Government to build a permanent home.

The new 'living room' will still be in Kuluin, but with about 700sqm of internal space for a large workshop, meeting rooms, an office and kitchen, and another external area for about 25 cars.

Shed member and former builder Terry Welch will coordinate the building while another member and former engineer Ian Smyllie will be the project manager.

In announcing the funding, Member for Fairfax Ted O'Brien said the shed members, through fundraising and donations, previously purchased the land opposite their existing site.

The shed president Graeme Giles says the new building will be able to support the shed membership quadrupling and the club activities expanding. "There are so many men in this demographic out there who we could be reaching," he said. "In our drawing area, combining with Buderim shed, there is probably a need for about 1000 members. We are just talking of men from 60 plus."

Mental health support has been a focus on the shed management team. Once a week they have a discussion group that ranges from sport to politics and news. Some members come for these yarns or to work on personal projects in the workshop, or both.

"We also have once a month some health provider come in and give us a talk, whether it's about eye care or prostate cancer or mental health," Mr Giles said. "We have also had a workshop on recognising mental health problems."

The concerted effort to raise the profile of men's health has helped change the conversation in the shed. "Everyone was reluctant when we opened the shed up to even talk about their problems," Mr Giles said.

"Most people now will open up. They soon get someone who has already gone through that particular problem. They get together and have a yarn about it.

"That's what we can do is get that cohesive nature amongst every one so they feel safe in the environment and they can discuss any problems they have, and enjoy the camaraderie."

Once in the new venue Mr Giles says the Maroochy Men's Shed plans to be open at least five days a week and to offer its shedders Cooking for One classes in the new kitchen along with a "multitude of other activities" including art and computer classes.