An innovative Narrabri organisation, the Women’s Shed, has got off to a flying start with a meeting attended by 40 women on Saturday.

The Women’s Shed will be a group which will offer women, aged 15 and above, opportunities to learn practical new skills, create, socialise, network and enjoy each other’s company.

Women in our community are looking to learn skills in woodworking, mechanics, welding, plumbing, and general industrial skills and they are wanting to learn how to use hand and power tools and be able to do general maintenance around their homes and also be creative with art and sculptures.

The launch of the Women’s Shed is an initiative by Community College Northern Inland Campus co-ordinator Trish Dandridge.

“The aim is to establish an organisation which will be a vehicle for women to learn ‘hands on’ skills they may not normally have easy access to, with other benefits such as networking, mentoring and coaching, introducing women to non-traditional skills and trades to broaden career choices and pathways.

“This group can empower women to be who they want to be and do what they want to do,” said Mrs Dandridge.

She was delighted with the enthusiasm at the first meeting. “In addition to the 40 women who came along, I have had expressions of interest from at least another ten women.

“Women’s Sheds have only started to emerge in the last few years, but are now gathering momentum.

“I initiated this Women’s Shed because we have been seeing strong interest from women through the Community College’s ‘learn to weld’ and other industrial type classes. The feedback I was getting indicated that the interest was there and it was time.

“Women want to learn how to do these things themselves and not have to rely on a handyman for everything – they can do it themselves.

“A lot of women may simply want to know how to change the washer on a tap, or use power tools – but it can be anything.”

“The Women’s Shed can also be used as a platform to discuss women’s health and wellbeing in our community, be inclusive of minority groups such as women with a disability, create an avenue for new people coming to town to meet and integrate into our community – there are so many opportunities for this group to give back to our community as well,” said Mrs Dandridge.

“At the meeting on Saturday, there was a lot of discussion around how the women see the Shed evolving such as making projects to donate back into the community.

“I want the Women’s Shed to be a safe, happy and harmonious place for all women to come and enjoy.

“I am very conscious that even though we have started discussions, we want it to evolve into what the community wants it to be, so we are looking for input and suggestions.”

The first meeting has set the scene for a successful Women’s Shed.

“We have about a dozen women who have put their hands up to establish our committee.

What is the next step? “We need to formalise our committee, secure a location and we are applying for funding to be able to set up the Women’s Shed” said Mrs Dandridge.

Meanwhile, the organisation is looking for a suitable name for the Women’s Shed and suggestions are welcomed.

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