Gympie Mens Shed member Tim Royle uses the jigsaw to create plywood trees for the Gympie Regional Council to display.Photo Boni Holmes / Maryborough Herald
Gympie Mens Shed member Tim Royle uses the jigsaw to create plywood trees for the Gympie Regional Council to display.Photo Boni Holmes / Maryborough Herald Boni Holmes

Open door policy at the Gympie Mens Shed

THEY want to chat, they want to listen, they want to build - it's an open door policy at the Gympie Mens Shed.

"We have our doors open to help people, talk to people and listen - everyone is here for their own opinions," one of the group's founding members Greg Houghton said.

"We try to make everyone as welcome as possible here.

"It's up to you to get what you want out of the shed."

The mens shed provides a shared space for blokes to indulge in hobbies, have a chat and connect with the community.

With depression and isolation affecting many men, the group wants to help lower the impact in a non-threatening and welcoming environment.

"This is a meeting place for men and we run a few classes here - bench press class, band saw class," shed president Graham Burgess said.

"These classes are run to allow members to use the equipment - everyone who wants to use the equipment must be signed off with a competency certificate.

"The shed also offers a place for members to talk about their cars, air their views and vent ... or not.

"We have a small library, pool table and barbecue - and no alcohol and no drugs on site.

Member of 18-months Ron Stephens said he had met a lot of new people and lifelong friends.

"I have done a scroll-saw certificate and a band-saw certificate," Ron said.

"I became the treasurer not long after joining the shed.

"It's a great place to come to let your hair down.

"I was very heavily involved in the Valley Rattler and when that folded I was sitting at home doing nothing.

"So I came over to the mens shed and I haven't regretted it."

Many of the members know their shed wouldn't be possible without the dedcation and efforts of Neil Wildman.

Together the committee spoke with Seniors Wide Bay newspaper shouting accolades to founding member Neil.

"This shed wouldn't be were it is today for Neil dedication - he went to evey shed, every department to make this possible," Greg said.

"We started off with just six people at the round table and since becoming incorporated we have taken off."

Members also allow the shed to be used by the students from the Gympie Edmund Rice Flexible Learning Centre and the local firies have held training workshops.

More than 90 percent of members were over 50, but the doors are open to everyone - there is no discrimination.

The group have a contract with Big W - assembling their bikes and also build barbecues at Bunnings for their displays.

All funds raised were used for buying safety gear, overheads like electricity, rates and rent and any work materials needed for community groups and businesses.

Some of the projects include building some plywood trees for a council display, making an foot locker for a local school, and building and erecting a sign for the Mary River Catchment Co-ordination Committee, and building honour boards for the girl guides association.

"We ask groups and organisations for donations," Graham said.

"We had camphor laurel given to use which we plan to build coffee tables, cutting boards, trophies and blanket boxes which we will sell at the local markets.

"We received a grant where we bought woodworking tools and equipment."

Greg said there were just so many people to thank for keeping the shed going.

"Most of all we want to thank Qld Rail for leasing the building to us and all the volunteers and support from the community - without them we wouldn't get off our feet," Greg said.

"If we can help just one person - then the shed has its purpose."

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