Involving refugees and asylum seekers in repair

The current situation in Afghanistan has got us thinking again about the role that community and commercial repair can play for refugees and asylum seekers.

Sharing repair skills connects refugees and asylum seekers to their new communities, and contributes to our society.

I can think of a few examples of this in action, such as Omer, who came to the UK from Libya and volunteers at Repair Café Glasgow; Restarters Romandie, who have run repair cafes with refugees and asylum seekers; and the summer school for kids seeking asylum we ran back in 2019.

But it would be really interesting to hear others’ experiences too.

Do you work with refugees and asylum seekers in your community group or repair businesses? How?

Or are/were you a refugee or asylum seeker yourself? Has repair helped you in any way?


Just noting that Sweden explicitly mentioned integrating immigrants as a motivation to create a tax deduction for repairs. @Jessika_Richter perhaps you can shed more light on if/how this is actually working?


Yep, we found mixed results in a rather quick review of the policy. The effect was hard to separate from the effect of the media and information that also made repair more visible to the public. The actual cost savings for a customer or repairer is often small compared to other costs involved in repair. Link to our study: and an EU summary of the RUT part of the VAT reduction: At the end of the day though, regardless of exactly how much repair is incentivised or jobs are created, this kind of shift of taxation policies is needed in my opinion (i.e. the argument that we should tax the things we don’t want more of and not tax what we want to see more of in society).


Thanks I suppose no insights about commercial repair, and to what extent it does help integrate immigrants in particular? I’m thinking it would be super fascinating to conduct some kind of “census” of people repairing to generate income, here in the UK.

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This is suggested as a theoretical aim of the policy, but I have not seen an evaluation of this aspect in practice.


… and from my own photography project, I found that in ReTuna (Sweden) and, especially, Kierratysekskus (Helsinki) migrants and refugees were a key element. They often already had some repair skills, but these centres helped them build on those skills, provided wider environmental education, whilst helping them learn local language/English and also earn a living. Resulting in helping them join/contribute to society and local community. Its a win-win-win, but sadly something most UK politicians fail to grasp.


We’re just developing a link with the Care 4 Calais Refugee charity in Nottingham and Derby. Our aim is to collect unwanted devices, mobiles particularly and set-up them up (repair them where necessary) and pass them on to those in the group who need them. It’s very early days and we’ll need to see who volunteers to do the repairs, but it would be good to tap into the skills of the refugee community who need to the phones etc, and support repair skill development too.


Hi Sarah,

We did some repairs for Care4calais two months ago, we manage to fix most of the phones. It took us some time to fix because we had to order the parts from China to keep the cost low.

There is one last phone due to collect. I tried emailing Jess but I think she left the organisation. Could you please contact me to arrange collection.

Thank you
Junaid Syed
Saras Fix


Cool to hear you have been repairing for Care4calais :smiley: :raised_hands: