Recently arrived Afghan refugees being resettled in Melbourne have joined Peter Mac patients in learning practical skills at the Men’s Shed.

The Afghani children and men, who are living in the Scape accommodation alongside some Peter Mac patients, starting attending the shed shortly after it opened in December 2021.

Shed Coordinator John Howarth said the response had been overwhelmingly positive. 

“Although there is an obvious language barrier, we‘ve had lots of the Afghans, especially the boys, showing great interest,” Mr Howarth said.

“We’ve built a work bench and the kids have gotten involved. They are keen to make wooden models of four-wheel-drive vehicles,” he said.

Four-wheel-drive fan Ahmed, 11, said he loved visiting the shed.

“I like to go to the shed and help to make things. I want to make a model of a Toyota Land Cruiser,” he said. 

Peter Mac’s Director of Prevention & Wellbeing Geri McDonald explained, “We have patients, carers and family members from regional Victoria who are in Melbourne for cancer treatment. They may not have any family or friends in the city, so the shed provides an avenue to connect with people and share their experiences.”

Maree Symons from settlement agency AMES said their refugee clients were benefiting from access to the shed through being able to build connections in the community, and having something constructive to do.

The Men’s Shed was initiated by Director of Prevention and Wellbeing Geraldine McDonald, and the Committee for Melbourne’s Future Focus Group Program.