Can we fix it?

Post date 21 September 2016


Bristol sends nearly 100,000 tonnes of waste to landfill every year. Although recycling is an important piece of the puzzle, how much better would it be if we could reduce the amount we throw away in the first place by fixing our broken stuff? This is the really simple idea behind Repair Cafés. The concept started in the Netherlands in 2007. Up Our Street spoke to Kate Jerrold, one of the founder members of Bristol Repair Café. They have been running a monthly repair café in Fishponds for nearly three years.

Kate is a passionate advocate for repair cafés “We need to have a fundamental change of how we see waste. Let’s stop calling it waste for a start, let’s look at it as a resource. Around 50% of the white goods taken to the tip still work, that’s crazy!” Kate’s day job is running a reclamation business, so she is well used to seeing the value in things that other people no longer want.

We talk about the team of volunteer fixers who keep the repair café running “We’re just a bunch of neighbours sharing our skills, this isn’t about replacing professional repair companies. Although many of our volunteers are involved in repair work in their paid jobs too, the repair café is about them giving some of their time as volunteers to help others fix things. Hopefully in turn we can help people who come to repair café to feel more confident about giving it a go themselves.”

“It’s really about finding the skills in your community, everyone has something to offer – that might be fixing your favourite pair of jeans, or being able to rewire a plug.” Kate believes that the key aspect to a successful repair café is building that core team of volunteer fixers.

Kate has had so many enquiries from people all over Bristol wanting to start their own repair café that the group is hosting a free workshop at Bristol Central Library on Saturday 1 October from 3pm to 4.30pm. It’s a chance to meet other people, and ask questions about the practicalities of running a repair café. You can also join the Bristol Repair Café Facebook group or check out the Repair Café website for more information about the concept.

If you’d like to see a repair café in action, you can visit the Fishponds team on Saturday 1 October from 10.30am to 1pm at All Saints Church, Fishponds Grove Road, BS16 2BW.  There’s also a new repair café at the St Pauls Learning Centre on Saturday 15 October from 10.30am to 1pm. This is the third session in St Pauls and they will be focussing on bike fixing as part of healthy city week.

image - Thanks to Rebecca Lissak for this photo from a recent St Pauls Repair Café.