The Birdcage gives women friendships to overcome tough times

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
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The Birdcage Albany group president Maria Noakes.
Camera IconThe Birdcage Albany group president Maria Noakes. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Few people know about The Birdcage and what it is doing to help women out of tough times.

The group is the lesser-known female version of the Albany Menshed and its members meet at the shed once a week to socialise and support each other.

Albany’s Maria Noakes is one of the women that the social group has pulled out of the dark.

After her son was murdered in 2012 and her husband died three years later, Ms Noakes found herself suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

She saw an advert for The Birdcage and decided to give it a go, with no idea how much joining the group would change her life for the better.

“I went through a lot when my husband died,” she said.

“I was basically pushed out by myself, and I have two other boys but they don’t live in town. I basically had no one.

“Going to this Birdcage that was advertised, I was so scared. I asked my next-door neighbour to go with me and she still goes too.

“I just went along and it just helps instead of sitting at home and crying all day. You can go there on a Wednesday and be with ladies that support you but cheer you up.”

Ms Noakes hopes that by sharing her story, more women will learn about The Birdcage and how it could help them. They meet on a Wednesday morning for a coffee and a chat, and bring along their arts and crafts.

She said the group started four years ago as a place for women to feel safe to speak about their problems with other women.

Members of Albany's Birdcage.
Camera IconMembers of Albany's Birdcage. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

While it still has that goal at its core, she said it was basically a social group.

“It has also gotten to the stage that I know if I am having a really bad day I can ring one of my Birdcage friends and they will see me,” she said.

“It is quite obvious some days that I have problems, I shake very badly, I forget words. But if I am saying something and the ladies see I am struggling, the ladies fill it in for me. We are just there to support each other.”

The Birdcage meets from 9.30am to 12pm on Wednesdays at Albany Menshed.

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