Grants to support your regional work in the UK - your input needed by 17th Sept

Grants to support your regional work in the UK - your input needed by 17th Sept

Over the past year, we have noticed that many groups in our network have been formally or informally supporting other groups to get started around them. This is something we absolutely want to support and encourage, as we’d rather have a decentralised “mesh” of support than a hub-spoke model. We’ve just received funding to offer small grants to groups involved in this work.


:uk: If your group is in the UK, we have grants available! (If not, sorry! These are UK-only)

The opportunity

:pound: Our funder Nesta/DCMS has just made it possible for us to extend financial support to groups that help other groups get started.

We’re interested in learning how to do this, and we think you can help us define the scope and mechanism for this.

At the end of September, we will open a call to groups here to apply for up to £5,000 to strengthen activity in England from autumn 2019 through mid 2020.

Note: We are open to applications from NI, Scotland and Wales, but these will not be funded by Nesta/DCMS and instead from our own funds. Because of this, we can probably only support one or two applicants outside of England at most.

We aim to make the process as straight-forward as possible. However, this will be a competitive call, and we will have to make a selection based on the criteria we share. Please also note that part of this work is to track our impact as a network, and some reporting will be required :chart_with_upwards_trend:.

In the meantime, there is time for you to tell us what you need and help shape this call. (See below!)

Timeline :spiral_calendar:

  1. Your feedback until 17th September
  2. Call for applications ready w/c 23rd September
  3. Call closes w/c 7th October
  4. Decisions w/c 14th October
  5. First payment - end of October
  6. Second payment - end of January

Our principles

We’ve been granted funds to support those groups who help other groups get started with community repair. This could be as minimal as answering emails to as intensive as going for coffees/teas, doing venue recce with future hosts, and helping on the first event.

But we think that up to £5,000 can go further. We’re interested in funding activities which do any of the following:

  1. Deepen the shared ethos of our events - they are not a free repair shop, they’re about learning

  2. Enhance safety and effectiveness of events

  3. Ensure our network is broad-based and diverse
    a) Reaching those who are inclined to activism and connecting them to the bigger picture
    b) Embedding our work in wider society / economy - links with schools, makerspaces, businesses

Our questions for you

  • What activities have you been unable to fund, and could you use this funding for? (We are very open to ideas, including funding people to do the work)
  • Could you leverage this funding, i.e. ask local government or a local sponsor to match it?
  • What are the “deal-breakers” in terms of applying for small grants?

:warning: Please reply below to these questions by 17th September


Hi Janet!
I’m part of StART, a community Land Trust, and we have no funds to help local groups begin a Repair Cafe. I am a fixer and want to help people on a local journey to learn to repair their own devices, including their homes, their clothes etc. Build on that to help them understand what ‘well-made’ means so they can help specify it locally.
We could maybe match fund, it would depend on what the constraints imposed on us were.
Deal-breakers would be if anyone other than local people and small biz made any money out of this activity.

Hi Chris, Nice to “meet” - I can see you just signed up here! Thanks for your interest but these funds are only open to groups that already have a track record running community repair events themselves. If you’d like help starting up repair events here in London, perhaps post what your questions/needs are on #local-chat:london and we’ll help out.

Thanks Janet, will do.

I’ve been talking to Joe from @Repair_Cafe_Wales who kindly agreed for me to pass on his comments

:grey_question: What activities have you been unable to fund, and could you use this funding for? (We are very open to ideas, including funding people to do the work)

:grey_question: Could you leverage this funding, i.e. ask local government or a local sponsor to match it?

:grey_question: What are the “deal-breakers” in terms of applying for small grants?

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Hi Janet! This is very much something I’d be interested in.

I’ve had several people in our area asking us to be at their venue (i.e. ‘can you do a repair cafe at our library?’ etc). I always reply saying I’d love to help someone set up a new event, offering to organise under our established branding and help set up the first few events. I’ve never had much luck, and wonder if something more substantial than words would tempt people. They’re obviously asking in the hope we would turn up and just provide for them.
We run 4 events a year and essentially I’d like to build up events on a hyper-local scale run by other people so users can travel to the one nearest to them.

I’ve also got a contact in a nearby town whose church is taking a sustainable pledge, and would like to run a repair cafe. I’ve already given her lots of advice and info. At the moment that’s all I’m able to do. With funding I would be able to travel to meet people, & could produce templates for promotional materials and online content.

Workshops are always quite popular in Bedford and I can see us expanding to support local specialists (i.e. upcyclers, bike repair people) to run their own, separate taster sessions for free, under our umbrella. There is definitely a hunger to learn in this way here, and is a good work around to get people to learn, not just receive free fixes. Are you looking for specifically electronics based activity @Janet?

We have good links with our council and some businesses, who we know we can always beg a free venue from. Our council and some nearby councils have recently declared climate emergencies and this could be a good way to lean on them for match funding. We had sponsorship from local businesses when we first set up, but also practical support by means of venues, advertising and online tools.

Everything we’re doing is super small-scale at the moment, especially reading over the replies from Repair Cafe Wales. I guess my deal-breaker would be if it’s the right time for me to focus on other groups


Here in Oxfordshire we discussed briefly the idea of having a Mobile Repair Cafe Bus that could visit the villages. The idea is that different “cafes” withing the group could use the bus to go to villages in their area. It will need a lot of discussion and work to make the idea work. Storing the vehicle should not present much problem a we sure one of the farms would help us


This is a great idea @derek_sayers, we have definitely considered some kind of pedal-powered variation. But sounds like a vehicle would cost more than £5. Would your group be interested in a small grant that would be contingent crowdfunding the rest? (This is something we hadn’t considered but that makes a lot of sense… and we would need to hear more about plans to sustain an investment like a bus…)

The vehicle might cost very much by contacting bus companies to see if they would donate a vehicle that has come to the end of its working life as a bus. The save something from being scrapped is something the Repair Cafes are good at! We mentioned the idea at a Group meeting last week but did not go into any details. If it is possible to get a bus then we would put together the costing of converting it into a workshop/Cafe.

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Great idea! We will make sure our call for applications takes into account this sort of project :slight_smile:

Been there before :wink: and it’s not really sustainable, is it?

This is exactly what we would like to fund :slight_smile:

Good question! We’d like proposals to include electronics repair where possible. Data from Repair Cafes across the world seems to reveal that this is one of the areas with highest demand. I can’t imagine we would fund a bike-repair focused project, or a clothes-mending project, but we would definitely fund mixed repair events, and the targeted events as long as they don’t form the majority of the activities.

Perhaps @Marie_Lefebvre or @Divya_Pujara might have some thoughts on this? They began to help other groups in Leicestershire when they were still relatively small in numbers. If you feel the time is not right, we could investigate a way to create a second round. Let’s see what others say (today?)

We get a lot of requests from organisations wanting to start new repair cafes. Usually, we respond with an email and not much else! A little pot of money to cover travel costs and some volunteer expenses would work wonders. We’d be better able to help other groups get off the ground. We could potentially leverage this fuding with a request to Glasgow City Council for match funding, or perhaps from the Scottish Government. Deal breakers are, as previously mentioned, time spent on the application v. amount of potential award.

@Derek_sayers I’ve had the same idea! An old decommissioned double decker can, as far as I know, be driven on a normal license. Run it on vegetable oil/biodiesel. Do it.

@Repair_Cafe_Wales We are interested in your materials that you mention: “we are creating tool-kits, templates and guidance videos for new repair cafes”. There are a number of repair cafe groups also working on this and perhaps would be good to collaborate…but I understand that limited time and no financial compensation for the work is a hinderance. Perhaps the £5,000 could go towards creation of this type of toolkit?!


Here’s a bus for £6k

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Hi, how are you today.
We’ve started Market Harborough Fixers with help from Leicester Fixers @Divya_Pujara and have had 2 very successful repair cafe events, with approx 15 fixers 50/50 electronics to mechanical and textile repair , results recorded on

Visited by the Market Harborough Chairman our MPs assistant with other councillors too and photographed by Market Harborough Mail paper

Next event 16th November

We’ve already. got 2 local sponsors helping cover 4 future event costs.

We are now considering additional funding from local support agencies and with matched funding from this scheme could buy our own pat testing machine and calibration , sets of tools, liability insurance and become independent of Leicester Fixers.
beyond that perhaps becoming a seed event for. Northants area where no events exist yet.

Please include us in this bid for funding.

   thanks Steve.              

Market Harborough Fixers

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One question… to receive funds we’d need a bank account and to open an account we’d need to become constituted. do you have examples of suitable constitutions or other comments please. thanks

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Thanks everyone for your feedback.
We’ll close this discussion now while we take your comments on board and refine the process from this point :+1:

Watch this space for more news about the application process next week.

Thank you everyone for you input so far. As Janet mentioned, we’re hoping your feedback to help us define the scope and mechanism for offering this funding. We’re currently working through your comments and will be launching a call for applications in the next few days.

In the meantime, here’s a quick overview of the feedback we’ve received in this discussion (both on this forum and separately):

Most groups who responded mentioned receiving requests for help to start up new groups and were interested in funding to help this work. Some of the ideas suggested included creating/scaling shareable resources, funding someone’s time/travel, running training workshops. One or two groups are also keen to work with other groups/networks/institutions, including schools.

A number of groups thought that approaching local government for match funding would be worth trying, though few seemed confident.

There’s a consensus that time is the biggest deal breaker. Most groups are already time-poor and can’t afford to spend too long on this application.