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BUDDY Benches, a father figure program, and woodworking projects for men with an intellectual disability were selected as SafetyQuip Australia’s 2016 Men’s Sheds Goodwill Projects.

The projects, conducted by Men’s Sheds in Cardiff District, Leeton Shire, and Diamond Creek respectively, will each receive part of SafetyQuip’s $5000 grant scheme.

SafetyQuip Australia General Manager Wayne Johnstone said all applicants showed valuable community support, and it was difficult to select the grant recipients.

“These three Sheds provide wonderful community support through their specified project, and it is rewarding to assist such worthwhile missions,” he said.

Cardiff District Men’s Shed President Dallas Hicks said the Buddy Benches concept provided a safe space for students who were lonely or bullied.

“We have built over 20 so far … small schools who might find money a barrier, this [SafetyQuip Grant] eliminates that problem,” he said.

Leeton Shire Men’s Shed Committee Member David Carn said the father figure program had been successful over the past four years.

“Most of the time these kids don’t have a father figure … we see fabulous changes in their confidence,” he said.

Diamond Creek Men’s Shed Treasurer Gary Burke, who also captains the intellectual disability project, said members found it immensely rewarding to put something back into the community.

“It’s not just about the woodwork activity, it’s also about the relationships we build with the group of guys and having fun,” he said.

Australian Men’s Shed Association Shed Development Officer Liz Macdonald said most ‘shedders’ share fellowship, camaraderie and devote most of their time to worthwhile community projects.

“Grants such as SafetyQuip not only assist Sheds financially but also provide to them positive feedback that they are being acknowledged, respected and valued,” she said.

SafetyQuip will be formally presenting Cardiff District Men’s Shed and Diamond Creek Men’s Shed with the grants in March.