Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

The Repair Cafe.

The Kirkbymoorside Environment Group advertised in the Summer for volunteers to help in their new venture, a Repair Cafe. Mr E and I volunteered.  A repair cafe is where you can take things to see if a volunteer can fix them for you, thus saving the environment from unnecessary waste and you from having to buy a new thing.

The first cafe session was yesterday.   We were nervous no-one would come, or that we couldn’t fix the items brought to us.

We started early to be on the safe side, allowing an hour and a half to set things up.

That little notice by the flowers reads Repair Cafe. But the town is so little I think everyone knew where we would be.

In there , to left, in what was once the library. Library has moved and is now run solely by volunteers.

A welcoming table with a disclaimer for everyone to read and agree in writing too. A signing in sheet, which records what needs to be fixed and whether it was fixed. A pot for donations, this service is free. Donations are welcome, because there is the hire cost of the hall to consider. Tickets for the queue.

Sewing machines in place. The other three tables we covered in the cardboard to protect them from oil, solder, glue etc.

A place for people to sit, have a chat, and drink tea and coffee. There was cake too.

So did anyone come? Yes they did. We had 19 people over the threshold, 1 was just curious, but ended up carrying a lamp to a car for a satisfied repairee, 1 came to say he could fix toys and stayed to fix something , 1 husband came to  be with his wife who helped with the teas and fixed a drill whilst he was there, and 16 people with more than one thing to be fixed.

Lady with a hedge trimmer which she had fetched on a bus all the way from Pickering.

Mr E fixing it. It was working when it left but the advice was to replace it as it was very worn internally.  We gave her advice on where to buy a new one.

Our first lady in the door with a skirt to be altered, way past my abilities. Here she is discussing it with a talented seamstress.

And here leaving, very happy and making a donation. The chap is having a favourite shirt repaired.

Broken zip on a bag under discussion, and see the people waiting behind enjoying the refreshments.

I think that’s a dvd player under repair. The CD player behind was fixed. Periodically a machine or music player would leap into action to the joy of the owner and delight of the volunteers. Each successful fix was cheered mightily.

I made a note of the things that came in :-

a skirt, a shirt, a pair of trousers, 2 laptops, a  plate, a flower pot, a hedge trimmer, a watch strap, a radio, a dress, two hoovers, a CD player, a driil, a hot plate, a speaker, an angle poise lamp, a cassette player, a charger and a handbag.

Sadly for me, no darning or knitting to fix, but as I had been put on the Welcome table, I was kept busy and I crocheted 6 small granny squares, apparently I am now making the group a blanket to be raffled for all the people who come for fixes, and some how that was my idea. One day I will learn to keep my great ideas to myself.

We thought that the room was too small, but actually it was the right size unless we get more volunteers. Two of the volunteer repairers let us down, one had a cold and one just didn’t turn up and wasn’t answering his phone. Which meant Mr E and Mr C in the last picture were rushed off their feet, and some people had to wait a very long time to be seen.

Some went off and did their shopping and came back, some stayed and chatted. One lady sat with me for ages, mesmerised by my ability to talk, crochet and not watch what I was doing the whole time, we compared the way we held our crochet hooks and yarn. We talked about yarn and knitting for our families.

I spent a while too chatting to the bag lady, the broken zip could not be fixed on the bag , we contemplated some velcro I had with me before deciding 2 buttons and nice strap or tape to link them might work.

The atmosphere was relaxed and casual. It was lovely the way people waited patiently and were so very happy. One of the broken Hoovers was brought down by the owners daughter and she was especially thrilled  for her Mum.

One lady said the publicity had been good, posters were up in all local shops, so she said you could not avoid them or forget when it was.

We have scheduled the next one for November. October being half term for grand children, family visits and a give and take day.

The whole day was a huge success, so much saved from being thrown away. The lady who organised us all  is 80, a talented and still professionally performing musician and artist. Her organisational skills are phenomenal, minutes kept, people chased, hall negotiated, insurance checked through the group, forms written, posters made and distributed etc . She is a marvel. Don’t believe me,  this is June Emerson. 

Her daughter now runs the sheet music business, but wait for it June still does the office work. What a role model.

It’s a privilege to be part of this repair cafe venture.

If you have the chance or the wish to be part of one, then go for it. It really is worthwhile.




Comments on: "The Repair Cafe." (54)

  1. What a brilliant idea – and what brave folk to offer their repairing talents. You have my respect!

  2. I love this!

  3. What strikes me is that besides repairs some of the people who came are maybe getting much needed company; the chance to meet others and socialise over a cup of tea. I love it. This post has given me such a warm fuzzy feeling. Well done

    • Thank you, yes we had far more tea ladies than strictly needed, whom I think came for not just a chat but the sense of being involved in the community.

  4. Love this idea – takes ‘green’ to the next level!

  5. This is going to grow and grow, once the word gets out and people start setting aside their items for repair! It’s a wonderful idea!

  6. Absolutely wonderful – heartwarming! And JUNE EMERSON! WOW! As you say – what a role model – amazing woman, I went to look at her website too, thank you for the link.

  7. A great idea Cathy and seems to be across ages etc. This concept is just catching on here, still early days.

  8. So pleased it was such a success! Such a great thing to do. June Emerson sounds like quite a lady!

  9. I am glad it went well Cathy it is such a brilliant idea.

  10. Pleased it went well, though not surprised. Around here the demand for ‘odd job people’ is amazing as it seems a whole generation have never been taught how to fix things or live alone. Like you and Mr E, we are a practical couple but each has our own specialities! Perhaps the next step for the repair cafe will be a learning corner.

    • People are asked to stay with their repairs so that they can give consent to each step in a repair but also so they can see/ learn what was done. People are so used to the throw away age they don’t think to fix things first, or how to.

  11. Oh yes! I bet word will get out about it now and next time you’ll have even more come! People will “save” their items now knowing you are coming! :o)

    My husband can’t fix much. My Dad fixed everything, I was his “go-pher”. Ran for the tool he needed, put weight on the boards for sawing. He never showed me how to fix because I was a girl.

    Now my youngest son (my surprise at 47! LOL! his siblings were 23,25 and 28 when he was born) is 13 yrs old and he is the spitting image of my father, running here and there and fixing everything already! I had to wait all these years for help! LOL! When I married I thought all men fixed things?! Oh well for better or worse! ;o)

    June is amazing! I got lost on her website. As a former starving artist, who has no musical talent. (badly play the clarinet) I am in awe of her artistic talents! Thank You for sharing that!

    In our state Minnesota, we don’t have repair cafes. We have “special” once a year garbage days with coupons etc to reduce the price of throwing electronics, small appliances, and TVs away. To deter people from “dumping”.

    p.s. thank you for visiting my blogs :o)

    • I am enjoying get to know you on your blogs, you are pretty amazing too. My Dad hardly ever did fixing, but he was a good gardener. Mum broke lots of things and fixed them with glue and selotape! Middle son is the one most likely to attempt mending. Periodically we get a call from one of our sons to ask Dad for advice. I think we may be quilty of taking Mr E’s abilites for granted!

  12. It sounds like so much fun! A good way to spend a day. 😀

    • Thank you, it was. I am so used to Mr E just fixing things round here, I fail to appreciate it’s not the norm!

      • I expect lots of older ladies who no longer have a Mr. E in their lives really appreciate this service!

      • It was very noticable that it was women who came with repairs , apart from the chap with a favourite shirt. I think you are right. I for one wouldn’t have a clue how to fix the things he fixes, maybe I should pay more attention.

  13. I was wondering what a repair cafe was and now I know. Have never heard of such a thing here and doubt anyone would bother with saving from the landfill. So many things are made to not be repairable. I think it’s a terrific idea. Glad it was so successful and you are going to get to do more.

    • So many things break though that can be fixed, sometimes things just get dusty and need a clean out. One of the laptops was an easy fix- a rabbit had knocked it off a table and something had worked loose, the other one needs a new fan, cost £4!

  14. Murtagh's Meadow said:

    Wonderful. You are doing such a good thing for the environment! You should all be very proud.

  15. Wonderful! Imagine how busy it will become when people get into the habit of thinking ‘I can pop that into the repair cafe’ instead of ‘Damn, I need to buy a new one’……. 😀

  16. Huzzah! What a lovely way to spend a day and what delightful community spirit. ❤ {{{applause}}} all around to everyone involved. Inspiring . Thank you for sharing. ~cheers

  17. Fantastic to hear you had so many people turn up. I’m sure word will spread and you’ll get more and takers and more expertise added to your repertoire. Well done all of you! x

  18. Sounds like it was well worth while. I bet the next one will be even busier! X

  19. I am so happy for the great turnout you had, and thanks for the intro to June Emerson, her energy reminds me of my dad! Wonderful day all around!

  20. It sounds like a great success! Congratulations on such a worthwhile activity, and before you know it people from far and wide will be coming!

  21. Am so glad your café went well yesterday and everyone was pleased, patient, and enthusiastic. Your organiser has a marvellous web site and sounds a fascinating lady!
    (May I send over my iron, which needs to have a broken wire in its power cord? LOL! Joking!)

    • I know what Mr E would say about that iron, you need a new one, irons are dangerous things! June is amazing and her enrgy level incredible, I forget she is 80!

  22. A great idea but, if I’m ever over in your neck of the woods, I’m not bringing a bag in for repair lest I be known thereafter as a ‘bag lady’ 🙂

  23. We have a repair cafe here in Leytonstone, held in a local church hall from time to time, and it seems to be very successful 🙂

  24. Sounds like a very worthwhile venture. Shame there isn’t one round here!

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