Hallidays Point Men's Shed is seeking to build bridges, but for the moment it's started with a fence.
Members were recently joined by Lions Club personnel to complete the fencing around the Black Head Road property allocated for the forthcoming Men's Shed premises.
The group has proven so popular it has outgrown the current site behind the Uniting Church at Hallidays Point, and is working toward constructing a permanent structure of it's own.
Approximately three and a half years ago the organisation became the beneficiaries of an incredible act of generosity, when the Men's Shed was gifted a one acre block of land from local residents Steve and Kath Woodward, by way of the local Lions club.
It seems the donation was as timely as it was charitable, with interest in joining the Men's Shed at a level beyond the capabilities of their infrastructure.
According to member Paul Eshman, the biggest limitation to the membership ranks is simply the size of the current premises.
"Membership is restricted by the size of the shed. We consistently have eight or nine guys, but we've had so many come in and say, 'it's too small'. They've basically said 'get a bigger shed and we'd be glad to come back'. We've just started trying to do that," Paul said.
With the area's growth measured at more than 26 per cent between the 2016 and 2021 census' and showing no signs of abating, a facility able to cater to the increased population appears to be sorely needed.
With the land secured and development applications in place, members are in the process of lodging a grant application through the Stronger Country Communities Fund (SCCF), a State government initiative overseeing $160 million in funding for community projects aimed at increasing the wellbeing of regional NSW communities.
Should their application prove successful, it would provide the funds necessary for construction of the new premises. However, regardless of the outcome, members are determined to explore all available avenues to secure funding until the premises is built. And for good reason.
According to the Federal government's Department of Health and Aged Care, Men's Sheds aim to improve the health and wellbeing of Australian men. They address social isolation and boost men's mental health in terms of feeling safe, making friends, and sharing meaningful activities.
They also provide vital health information and resources that men may not usually access, or may be reluctant to access. A study in 2013 found that Men's Shed members had significantly better scores than non-Shed members for physical functioning, general health, vitality, and mental health.
Not that the meetings are so intently focused on addressing these issues.
Paul Eshman says it's more that an environment of support and trust is created, allowing problems to be discussed openly and without judgement.
"First thing we do is boil the kettle then sit down for a yarn, and it's surprising how many blokes do open up and actually talk a bit about mental health and that sort of thing, in the sense of just having someone to talk to," Paul said.
While the endeavour has an undeniable charitable appeal, Men's Shed member Ray Piper was quick to point out a more quantifiable offshoot to the work done by the organisation.
"It's a good investment because the government doesn't have to spend great resources on mental health for that age group. That's what it's all about," Ray said.
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