Kylie Watson, The Home Handywoman runs DIY workshop days for our women at Bonnie’s. She’s showing them how to do the fixing for themselves.
I remember one woman was horrified… only two weeks earlier she had paid $430 for a plumber to change two washers. That costs $10 if you do it yourself.”
We usually start our workshop days the morning, going for a wander around Bonnie house to find the electricity meter, the mains power, the water and the gas. We go through how to isolate them or check if there’s a problem, what they do, and that they can’t hurt you.
I was really shocked at how many women did not know where to find their mains. What I thought to be common knowledge… they’d never had any reason to know. I thought, I’m going to tell them this and they’ll go, ‘Yeah yeah’. No, they had had no idea.
After that we go through how to fix a leaking tap. I pull the taps apart and show them what each part is, where the washer is, how to turn off the water mains, and all the rest of it. Then they all have a go at pulling apart a tap and putting it back together.
I’m trying to get rid of that fear of the unknown, of not knowing what you’re looking at underneath the sink. I want them to be able to identify the parts and know what they do, and not be afraid of, ‘What happens if I do this? What happens if I do that?’
I remember one woman was horrified when we finished changing the tap washers. Only two weeks earlier she had paid $430 for a plumber to come and change two washers in her bathroom. That costs $10 if you do it yourself. She was devastated. But then she got really angry about it and said, ‘I’m going to do this myself. I don’t even care if the rest of my washers need changing at home, I’m going to do them!’
After lunch I bring in hand held drills. I go through the parts and how they operate, and the women put some screws in wood and walls. 90% of the women who do these courses have never even held a drill. They’ve never picked one up, are terribly afraid of them, and don’t know one end from the other. But by the end they’re all drilling holes and taking photos. That’s really exciting for them, to feel confident about what that they can do themselves, without having to rely on a tradesperson or a partner or whoever else.
Women don’t necessarily feel confident or comfortable with a tradesman in their space, in their home, telling them whatever they want and charging them whatever they want. I love being able to give them pointers about equipment, and what type of questions to ask a tradesperson when they need work done.
The best part is when I run in to women who’ve done a workshop and they’re like, ‘Oh my friend had a problem with her tap and I went and helped her!’ Or, ‘I fixed my toilet roll holder that was loose on my wall because now I know how to!’ And Bonnie’s has toolkits the women can borrow so they don’t need to go out and buy anything.
Sometimes it’s hard to call it work because I really enjoy what I do, whether it be the teaching or the workshops or the actual work itself. I really really love it, I really love it.
Suggested by Nguyen
KYLIE’S TOP TIPS:
- The best way to find a good tradesperson is by asking for referrals from friends and family
- Shop around – get a minimum of three quotes.
- Make sure all quotes are in writing, not just verbally.
- Be clear that if there are going to be any changes to the quote, you have to approve it first before the work goes ahead.
These workshops were sponsored by Nikki Tighe at the Liverpool Women’s Resource Centre. Thank you LWRC for offering these DIY classes to our clients.