Repair Cafes – Case Study (Warminster Library, Wiltshire)

“We have hosted 2 repair café’s so far. We had to do very little because the organising was done by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Jen who had booked the room. If you were starting from scratch then you would need to have ‘fixers’ available who were qualified and it would need to include an electrical fixer; a bike fixer; a garden equipment fixer; and possibly a seamstress or at least some-one handy with a needle!  They brought cake and refreshments for the ‘café’ side of things so really all we did was provide the space; circulate the advertising; make sure there were relevant books around on the day and lap up the great comments. Would we do it again? Yes definitely!” Warminster library staff

What do you do with a chair when the leg has come loose? With a toaster that no longer works or a jumper with moth holes – bring it along to a Repair Café! On Saturday 1st February  we held our second Repair Café at Warminster Library and it was a really successful event.

The Repair Café is run by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and we act as the venue so they organise all the publicity, the cakes and the refreshments. The idea is that Repair Cafes are free meeting places and they are all about repairing things together. At the café you will find tools and materials to help you make the repairs and repair specialists such as electricians, seamstresses, carpenters and bicycle mechanics. The Trust organises the ‘Fixers!’

The idea is that people come along to event with items that need fixing whether it’s a bike with a flat tyre or a computer with a dodgy hard drive. Together with the specialist they start making their repair and it’s an ongoing learning process. Lots of people have forgotten they can repair things themselves or they no longer know how but at the Repair Café valuable knowledge is passed on. On Saturday we had four fixers – bikes –electrical – computers – and garden tools and people started queuing half an hour before the ‘café’ opened for business. I could see a variety of broken objects including a bike; a lawnmower; and a computer.

Once the ‘Repair Café’ was open for business, representatives from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust greeted each person and they filled out a form detailing what they had brought and what the problem was and then they were directed to the appropriate ‘fixer’. Of course, the fixer might be busy so this is where the Café bit comes in and the customer is offered coffee and homemade cake while they wait! We had scattered books about DIY and ‘Make do and mend’ around the coffee tables (as well as all our promotional material for Love your library events)

The café was open from 12.30-3.30 and was constantly busy with the computer fixer being the busiest. At the end of the session 20 people had had their items looked at and mended or received advice as to what to do next with their item. Many more people enjoyed the tea and cakes! The whole library seemed to be buzzing and busy and we got really lovely feedback from customers.

Media links

Eco living: the family who bought nothing new for a year – Telegraph. “During her “year of living frugally”, Jen, in conjunction with the Wiltshire   Wildlife Trust, helped set up Warminster’s first “Repair Café” in the town    library – a concept that began in Holland, where volunteers with expertise   such as electricians and seamstresses, show people how to mend their broken   items and then pass their knowledge on to others. “It’s so useful to know   that if the element goes in your toaster, you don’t have to throw it away,   you can repair it,”

Warminster’s Repair Café is fixing to be a real hit – This is Wiltshire. “Warminster’s first Repair Café was heralded as a success on Saturday, after volunteers helped mend electrical items, bric-a-brac and clothes.   Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Make It Better organised the event at Warminster Civic Centre, which saw volunteers with know-how help fix items that may have otherwise been thrown away.   Warminster residents brought in everything from torn T-shirts to DVD players and laptops to be repaired.”

Customer feedback

‘A fantastic idea’

‘A great use of the meeting room space’

‘So practical and my lawnmower is mended’

‘An interesting way to spend the afternoon – tea and cakes as well as information – what could be better!’

‘More please’”

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