Sewing and socialising
EVERY Tuesday a group of about 15 Toowoomba district women gathers in a shed behind the Lifeworks Uniting Church to sew, help others and talk.
It's Toowoomba's first Women's Shed - a concept first begun in Charters Towers in 2016 inspired by the successful Men's Shed movement.
Organiser Jean Turner said that like the Men's Sheds, the aim was to provide a safe and comfortable place for women to gather to help others, as well as themselves through socialising.
"It gives women a chance to sit with their hands busy, and then the talk comes naturally - we solve all the problems of the world," Jean laughed.
"You have to find something that is fulfilling to do - for me, I love sewing, and it creates a little village ... a little family where we care about each other."
She is encouraging others to join that family, with an Open Day from 9am-3pm on Tuesday, October 1 giving women the chance to "come along and have a look at what we do, and either join in or have a think and maybe come back the next Tuesday".
"You just have to want to get out of your house and join some people doing something good for others," Jean said.
While the Women's Shed has only been operating about six weeks, the group isn't entirely new, with many of the women having previously worked out of Jean's home making goods for Sewing for Charity Australia.
Jean said the difference was that now all their work was concentrated on helping people in Toowoomba and surrounds.
"There's just so much need right here," Jean said.
First stop was asking nursing homes what their clients needed, including rugs, capes and fiddle mats for dementia patients, as well as 650 Christmas stockings.
"It means that every single person in those nursing homes will get at least something for Christmas, because there are so many people who don't get visitors or anything to make Christmas special," she said.
They are also making goods including library, swimming and chair bags and another 200 Christmas stockings for Darling Heights State School, whose students come from diverse multicultural backgrounds, with about 45 different languages spoken.
Nighties for premature babies and clothes and toys for children coming into care are also made.
Ultimately, Jean hopes that the Toowoomba Women's Shed will grow into a venue where women can drop in at any time just to be with other people, offering a range of activities.
"That's my guiding star," she said, pointing to the number of people - men and women - living alone and the depression that grows from loneliness.
"We need to pull those people out, give them something to do that they enjoy - a lot of women who have sewn in the past are coming forward."
But you don't need to have any particular skills to join the Women's
While some women work on the overlocker or sewing machines - you don't have to have your own - others thread ribbons into the bags, stuff bears, cut out material, iron or pack goods.
Some learn the basics or new skills from other women, increasing the confidence and self-esteem of both.
Jean said she had retired about six years ago, and after the first six months had found herself bored, beginning work for Meals on Wheels and St Vinnies.
"You've got to keep yourself busy - that's how you stop getting old," she said.
To find out more, phone Jean on 0488126282 or just go along to the shed on October 1.