The Moree Men’s Shed is currently on the hunt for a new home.
Their current shed at Moree Showground is located on low ground within a few hundred metres of the Mehi River and the men have serious concerns for their equipment and tools if a flood was to come through.
President Peter Sampson said their machinery alone, including power and hand tools, would be worth about $30,000, all of which has been purchased from the shed’s earnings over the years.
“And that’s not accounting for what else might be here, such as furniture to repair, when a flood comes through,” Mr Sampson said.
The last big flood in February 2012 saw 1.5 metres of water fill the shed, destroying everything, while a few months before, in November 2011, flood water rose to 900 metres in the building.
Mr Sampson said those floods occurred not long after the shed was officially opened in October 2011 so they didn’t have as much equipment to lose back then.
“We never had quite as much equipment as we do now, we now have three times the machinery as we did at the start,” he said.
“We’re not that much higher than the river here; it’s one of the first areas of Moree that gets water.”
The shed used to be the old chook pavilion at the showgrounds and members estimate it would be at least 60 years old.
As a result, the roof isn’t completely waterproof so moisture gets on their equipment, and there are no bathroom facilities or air-conditioning.
Earlier this year Jock’s Hire generously donated a portaloo to the group, who previously had to walk a few hundred metres to the showground toilet block which, for some older members, was a challenge.
“When you get on a bit, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go,” Mr Sampson said.
The cold also affects the men more as they get older, with most are in their 70s and 80s.
“I’m starting to feel the cold more than I have before,” treasurer Bruce Clyne said.
The men would also love a building that has a separate room for them to have morning tea; their current kitchen facilities are in the same room as their work stations which means it is very dusty.
Morning tea is an important part of the Men’s Shed meetings, with the men breaking for a cuppa and sweets at 8am and 10am during their meetings every Wednesday and Saturday.
The Men’s Shed currently has 20 members, with about 10 turning up every Wednesday and Saturday.
Another issue with their current building is a lack of space – it’s impossible for any more than 10 people to work at once, let alone being a Work, Health and Safety issue.
“When there’s 10 people turn up it is very crowded,” Mr Sampson said.
Joblink Plus’ Heather Whitby has recently come on board as the Men’s Shed secretary and has been leading the charge for a new building after seeing the conditions the men are working in.
“They need a proper facility,” she said.
“We’re looking for community and council support to get out of the showground to somewhere warmer, drier and somewhere with toilets.”
“Some go for a cuppa, some go to do woodwork, and the majority go just for company. It's somewhere they support each other.
The group has approached Moree Plains Shire Council for help in finding a building but at this stage there’s nothing available.
Heather and the men are now putting the call out to the community to see if anyone knows of somewhere suitable, within their budget. They currently pay $40 a week to lease the shed at the showground and, being a not-for-profit organisation, can’t afford to pay much more than that.
“What money we make goes back into the shed,” Mr Sampson said.
The men have been granted land to build on at the southern end of the showground if they wish, however the cheapest quote they’ve receive to build a new shed is $106,000.
If they can’t find a building to lease, the group welcome any donations from the community to go towards building a new shed.
They recently received their first ever donations – a $500 donation from the Rising Sun Film Society and $1,500 from the Victoria Hotel social club.
Ms Whitby is also helping the men write grant applications in the hopes of gaining funding.
She hopes the community will get behind the men and support the great work they do.
“When I got down there I saw the most wonderful group of men,” Ms Whitby said.
“Some go for a cuppa, some go to do woodwork, and the majority go just for company.
“A lot are widowed, some have early stages of dementia.
“It’s somewhere they support each other.”
If you can help the Moree Men’s Shed, contact John Hanns on 0428 937 853 or Heather Whitby on 6750 8400.