By Lauren Liles on behalf of SLH
This article was originally written for the July edition of Heatons Post
Inspired by an initial visit to a repair café in Levenshulme, SLH has been discussing the possibility of opening up one in the Heatons. There are repair cafés across the world.
What is the story behind repair cafés?
In 2009, a Dutch journalist called Martine Postma brought together a group of friends who were good at fixing things and ran what she called a “repair café” — a free event where people could bring their broken belongings and volunteers would help to try and fix them.
It was so successful that in 2011 she started the Repair Café Foundation to provide support to local groups hoping to start their own repair café. Since then, the concept has grown to over 1,400 events in more than 30 countries.
What are the aims?
The aim of a repair café is to prevent everyday items from going to waste, therefore reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing new items.
They also encourage learning and sharing of skills in a social setting, as well as maintaining repair expertise and spreading this knowledge.
How does it work?
Repair cafés are run by volunteers — people who have specific skills that they would like to share with the local community. These skills may include sewing or repairs to furniture/wood, bikes, garden tools and small electrical items. There is also a need for volunteers with “meet and greet” skills for managing the tea, coffee and cake! Repair cafés operate once a month for a period of two hours.
Is there a charge?
No, the repairs are free, although donations are welcome to help build the stock of tools and materials.
How is it going to work in the Heatons?
The launch date has not been finalised but will definitely take place by the autumn and will operate on the third Saturday of each month.
Progress to date has involved some excellent partnerships across the Heatons:
- Revd. Liz Rowles is providing space at St Pauls Church
- Men in Sheds (MIS) will be on hand to repair small items of furniture, hinges, loose handles and similar, plus sharpen garden tools
- A local has volunteered to repair items of clothing, such as split seams in a jacket, missing hooks on waistbands, zip repairs
- A professional upholsterer has volunteered to do repairs to dining room size chairs and stools
- Another volunteer, a keen cyclist, will repair punctures, chains that have come off and show how to tighten brake cables
- We also have a volunteer for hosting arrivals with their items to be repaired, and a volunteer to bake cakes
We need more volunteers so that we can operate on a rota basis, ideally people who have experience in repairing small electrical items (NOT white goods)
Do you know anyone who might be interested in volunteering? Repairs will include household objects, bicycles, clothing, mechanical devices and woodworking repairs. Any skill you may have to repair things, whatever it is, we would love to hear about it. If you can help or would like to know, more email firstname.lastname@example.org