THE Ethnic Communities Council of Newcastle and the Hunter is powering ahead with its vision to transform the old Waratah Bowling Club into a welcoming and inviting place for all.
This week the Ethnic Council unveils its latest project - a new men's shed and community garden.
Two years in the making, the shed is one of the biggest purpose-built men's sheds in the country, covering an area of two tennis courts. It includes an office, a kitchen and meeting room, toilets, and showers with facilities for those with a disability.
A mezzanine will also give the shed extra storage space.
Newcastle and Hunter Region Ethnic Communities Council community focus manager Mark Toohey said the hub with the new men's shed would provide a space for people to learn new skills and to connect with those from different backgrounds.
He said men's sheds were great for men's health issues because they provided an environment where men could open up.
"Men are often harder to support than women when they are in their times of need," Mr Toohey said.
"They often talk shoulder to shoulder, rather than face to face," he said.
The ethnic council supports a variety of communities in Newcastle, from the established communities from Poland, Greece and Macedonia through to the new and emerging communities from Sudan and Afghanistan.
Mr Toohey hopes to be able to connect the communities through the men's shed.
He said all local men are welcome, whatever their skills.
"If you just want to a come in for a cuppa, you're more than welcome."
The community garden will also provide a place for people to grow food native to their country.
■ The Waratah-Mayfield Men's Shed open day is today, Wednesday, July 30, 11am to 1pm, at the old Waratah Bowling Club site, Platt Street, Waratah. Phone 4960 8248 for more information.