This article was first published in the Preston Leader (page 6) on February 23, 2016
Pictured (l-r): Maurice Solano, JC Canavan, Darren Stones and Laurie Taylor at the men’s shed.
TAKE a stroll through Reservoir East on Friday afternoons at the moment and you’ll hear anything but the sounds of silence coming out of the Darebin Men’s Shed.
Organisers are harnessing the power of music to help combat social isolation and mental illness among local men.
The program started last week and, if successful, the two-hour jam will become a regular feature of participants’ week.
Maurice Solano and Sol De Heer, from Neami National Community Mental Health Service, are behind the idea which they say will have benefits for the wellbeing of those who take part. Mr Solano said the music program, like the shed itself, was designed to bring men together.
“The basic idea is about bringing men together and connecting through the music,” he said. “It’ll be a regular space where guys can come along and play a few songs.”
Mr Solano said participants of all standards would be welcomed. “Absolutely anyone who is even vaguely interested — it can range from virtual virtuosos to guys who have never picked up an instrument in their lives,” he said.
And while blokes are welcome to bring their own instruments, some will be provided by organisers. “We have a few guitars, a couple of percussion instruments and a keyboard or two,” Mr Solano said.
“Being able to express yourself through music can be very relaxing. It’s one of those things — I know for myself if I’m dwelling on something it’s a good way to take my mind off things.”
The initiative is an example of community programs and concepts Leader Newspapers is looking for as contenders for it’s Leader Local Grants.
They celebrate initiatives that benefit communities by giving away $33,000 to projects across Melbourne.
Entries close on March 4. Find out more, apply or vote for a project at leaderlocalgrants.com.au.