Women want DIY sheds

Have you ever wanted to brush up on your DIY skills because hiring a handyman is too expensive or you don’t feel comfortable letting strangers in your home?

These are some of the reasons why groups such as the Women’s Shed Movement WA and the City of Stirling’s Women’s Workshop Pilot Program are gaining popularity.

While women are welcome in men’s sheds, some women feel more comfortable in a space of their own and would like a place in their neighbourhood where they could pop in to work on projects, learn new skills and make new friends. DIY sheds are also attractive for people who don’t have space for a workshop at home.

Founder of the Women’s Shed Movement WA Carol Huish said women’s sheds were a safe place for women of all ages to learn new skills.

While WSMWA would ultimately like to see women’s sheds across metropolitan and regional WA, there are no dedicated women’s sheds in the state, although men’s sheds have existed here for over a decade

DIY painting by Tegan Williams
There are many reasons why women are getting into DIY. Photo: Tegan Williams

Last year the public showed great interest in the City of Stirling’s Women’s Workshop Pilot Program. With more than 250 people on a waitlist, it was carried out with great success. The program offered workshops in whittling, how to use hand tools and how to make a chopping board.

City of Stirling mayor Mark Irwin said: “The Women’s Workshop Pilot Program highlighted the huge demand from women to learn skills across DIY, home maintenance, use of tools and equipment, and vehicle maintenance.”

The future direction of the program is up for discussion by the City of Stirling Council in June.

City of Stirling councillor Elizabeth Re has been a part of the conversation about DIY sheds from the start. She said the community would be better off with women’s sheds, as women will gain confidence and improve their well-being and mental health.

She said although the Innaloo Sportsmen’s Club was an ideal venue for the pilot program because women felt safe there and children could watch television while mothers learned or improved on skills, the challenge with creating a women’s shed was finding a permanent suitable safe place.

The men’s shed movement is up and going. Photo: David Siglin

According to Men’s Sheds of WA, there are more than 180 men’s sheds in the state. Men’s sheds are designed to be a place where men feel safe and included, while they work on their hobbies and craft in a community environment.

Men’s Sheds of WA chief executive James Wild said: “Each men’s shed facility is open to a broader demographic with around 30 per cent of men’s sheds having female members or participants.”

Men’s sheds play an important role in society as they have mental health benefits while reducing sedentary behaviour and helping to combat loneliness, especially among older men.

Professor Rob Newton from Edith Cowan University’s School of Medical and Health Sciences said: “Men’s sheds provide an opportunity to engage socially in an environment appropriate for men which is supportive and nonthreatening.

“Men can talk through their problems and usually other men in the group will be going through similar experiences.”

The challenge WA now faces is finding suitable venues for women’s sheds across the state.