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A shed amongst the gum trees

MENS’ MENTAL health has a new home in Warrandyte. 

Two years in the making, the Warrandyte Men’s Shed held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, January 15.

The Warrandyte Men’s Shed is the latest project by Chris “Chewy” Padgham who has a history of advocating for male mental health.

In the past he has worked for the Victorian Red Cross Men’s Referral Service, MensLine Australia, Shire of Yarra Rangers Kids’ Service and he is currently Group Leader for Warrandyte Scouts.

Until they can find a permanent venue, the Warrandyte Men’s Shed is making use of the Warrandyte Scouts Hall to host its weekly get-togethers.

At the first meeting, Warrandyte Lions provided decks of cards, board games and basic supplies for tea, coffee and sandwiches.

“I just want to create somewhere where men can get together, enjoy each other’s company and do the things they like to do,” said Chewy.

“I’m really just trying to create an environment to facilitate that.”

The concept of a Men’s Shed in Australia as a place for men to come together, and “work” together towards positive mental health first began in the late 1970s – early 1980s.

Traditionally, these community “sheds” are a space where retired men can work on community projects together, usually using practical, mechanical, carpentry and metal working skills they acquired through their former working life, and this concept is still deeply rooted in what a modern Men’s Shed is, but with Generation X entering the retirement window, the types of skills retired Australians have are beginning to change.

Eltham Men’s Shed is a great example of this with their website posting about the Shed’s activities outside the traditional workshopping projects – such as gardening, photography, cooking and even weekly bicycle rides.

What does this mean for our Warrandyte Men’s Shed? 

It means its purpose and its potential is open-ended.

The collective work and social experiences of the members of the inaugural Warrandyte Shed were diverse.

“We could have these meetings under a gum tree, it doesn’t really matter”, said member, Don Hughes.

“It’s about getting a bunch of blokes together to share stuff and help out when we can,” he said.

Living up to these words, the group did exactly that. 

The group moved from the Scout Hall for their second meeting and formed a working party to help a local resident clean up her front yard following the devastating hailstorm that pummelled Warrandyte recently.

Don also spoke about how the Warrandyte Men’s Shed can offer support to males of all ages.

“There’s also a place for younger men, perhaps they get retrenched or something like that, this could be a place for them too.

“Often there is a youth element who may need an uncle figure and this could be a place for them to get camaraderie that way,” he said.

Currently auspiced by Warrandyte Community Association, Chewy is going through the process of getting the Warrandyte Shed registered with the Victorian Men’s Shed Association (VMSA), he is also looking to council for support.

Regardless, the Shed is up and running.

The vision of VMSA is “for all Victorian men to be happy and healthy contributors within their local community”; with Warrandyte’s rich tapestry of community focussed organisations and its artistic history it is still unclear how this vision will manifest in the Warrandyte Shed.

However, camaraderie, sharing stories, and helping others were core values within the group present at the first meeting, and whatever direction Chewy and the other members take their Shed, it is sure to contribute significantly towards fostering positive masculinity in our community.

Men of all ages are welcome to attend the Warrandyte Men’s Shed.

The Shed meets every Wednesday at 10am at Warrandyte Scout Hall, Stiggants Reserve.

Membership costs $15 per year.

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