Repair Cafe Conference

I have just been sent an invitation to this Repair Cafe conference. 12 March 2020 in Farnham.

It seems to be an initiative by the chaps at Farnham Repair Cafe and The Centre for sustainable Design. There is a booking from application on the site.


Thanks for highlighting this Stuart!
It looks like an interesting event :slight_smile:

Wondering if either you, @Stuart_Ward or @Chris_Moller could share notes and observations from this event, for those who didn’t attend? Seems like it will be the last meeting of repair groups in the UK for a while, as we will have to take Fixfest UK online or postpone. (We’re still deciding on that!)

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Hi Janet,

I must admit I wasn’t taking notes. However, James was also there. I guess there were about 120 people from all over the south of England – and apparently
there are now about 120 Repair Cafés in the UK, too.

The focus was quite heavily on data gathering and analysis. I’ve commented quite extensively on this forum with my frustrated views on data gathering. There
are literally hundreds of questions one could ask, and a very low threshold for what repairers are willing to capture and document. The determinant should not be which questions will result in a nice-looking pie chart! There is no clarity on the objective
for the data capture. That’s where one needs to start. Are you trying to find out about the social impact, or gaining ammunition for the Right To Repair campaign, or measuring the CO2 saved? Each will produce a very different questionnaire.

Having said that, there was a very good presentation from a Masters student who has developed a CO2 calculator for RCs. I plugged my data into this, and found
that although we have saved 50tonnes of CO2 through repairing, we have also generated 10tonnes through transport, food consumed, spares and consumables used – which was a bit of a surprise.

Best wishes, and keep healthy!


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I did indeed take some notes, which I’ve yet to put into some kind of intelligible order. I’ll try to post them here in the next few days :+1:

In the meantime, yes, data was very much a constant theme and there were a lot of opinions in the room about all the points Chris mentions above.

Overall though, I came away with a strong sense that people do understand that data is valuable and that most are supportive of attempts to collate data from groups around the UK/world. The key caveats seemed to be that recording data needs to be extremely easy and that it’s important each group can get some use from it.

Also tagging @Lee_Becker, @Peter_Blenard, @Martin_Bryant, @Victoria_Jackson, @sam_Jarman, @Lorna_Montgomery, @Chris_Murphy & @Clare_Seek who were also there :slight_smile:

Did any of you folks take notes too?

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I’ve finished typing up most of my notes, which anyone can read here:


Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Hi guys,

Lovely meeting some of you a couple weeks ago before the ‘lockdown’.

I’ll pop my notes below… They’re not everything and might be more relevant for what I was looking for, but hopefully it will give a starter for ten. I’m still awaiting slides and the report referred
to at the start to fill in some of the gaps.

Research from Erasmus University of Rotterdam which gathered data regarding the drivers, challenges and demographics of the average repair café. This represented 302 repair cafes across the World. (Slides to follow). Items of particular
note include:

  • Once a month is the most popular frequency of repair cafes

  • The average amount of visitors were between 11 and 20, average volunteers were between 7-22 and the average number of products brought in was between 11 and 30.

  • The average success rate was 3-4 out of 5… roughly comes out as a 60% repair rate

  • Most repair cafes are founded my a motivated individual or an informal group of motivated individuals

  • In terms of structure the majority tend to be part of a larger initiative, have no legal status or has a legal status (such as a CIC, constituted group etc.)

  • Most encourage visitors to watch repairs or even encourage visitors to help with the repairs themselves

  • Attracting young people is high on Repair Café’s agendas.

  • It is very uncommon for repair cafes to be networked

There was a panel discussion but with no clear consensus with issues such as insurance. While the Cambridge collection of repair cafes don’t have any sort of insurance, some have product liability insurance. However, it was widely acknowledged
that public liability is definitely needed.

In terms of suggesting ways of involving young people, a lot of people thought of uniformed groups such as scouts or guides with work towards various repair badges.

It was also suggested the importance of having some sort of front-of-house person during the running of the repair café to triage the problems, sort out paperwork (disclaimers, logs etc) and be at point to fill in logs.

In terms of ways in which we can see the impact of the repair cafes, a tool has been designed by the Farnham Repair Café currently in beta testing which can work out the impact of fixes by only knowing the product.

The model is quite unique as it takes in to consideration the average distance travelled per product including mode of travel. It also takes in to consideration “Rebound Consumption” for which a typical example would be a visitor, who with
the saving made from the repair invests it in something else such as a cake and coffee etc.

The model also highlights some interesting findings such as jewellery repairs, which is so light that it takes more carbon to repair rather than make any sort of carbon saving.

Other ideas which were shared:

  • Dementia friendly repair cafes

  • Saying no textile alterations as opposed to a fix

  • Vacuum cleaners are a common sight in repair cafes, however tend to be the simplest repairs, usually a result of a blocked filter and a lack of vacuum maintenance

Take care and keep well,



Great notes, thanks Peter :+1:

I did some digging and managed to find this report:

Global survey of Repair Cafés:

Rather shocked about the “no need for insurance” attitude of some.

Thanks @james @Peter_Blenard for your notes.

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

It rather surprised me too. Whilst in some circumstances there are ‘grey’ areas such as professional and product liability, but I agree public liability is a must. I think the discussion came down
to the fact that this is something which is done in mutual agreement that this isn’t professional, but a community action.

However, its clear that does open up the gates to all sorts of liability if things were to go wrong.

Thanks James for the notes and the report!




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The information above isn’t quite correct. The insurance situation varies considerably across the 23 RC’s in the Cambridge area. The RC I organise does not have insurance - and I will defend that policy to anyone. (My RC does however take advantage of the public liability insurance held by the building in which it takes place.)

There is no formal organisation behind my RC to be sued (so what name would go on the policy?) True, a vindictive person could sue an individual, if they really had a mind to - though they would have to establish negligence - which might be difficult if the person in question had never claimed to be an expert. Yes, it is possible that someone could be injured or even killed by something that was repaired at the RC. It is also a possible outcome for something they asked a neighbour for some help with. A RC is simply connecting neighbour with neighbour. (Would you sue a neighbour for his assistance, freely given?) For this reason, it is essential that the Repairee is fully engaged in the repair process, and fully understands the significance of there being absolutely no guarantee on the result. If they want a guarantee, we direct them to a professional repair shop.

This approach contrasts markedly to RCs in this area that are organised under the umbrella of a substantial organisation. Clearly, in that situation there is much more at stake. The organisation will doubtless already have its own insurance for all kinds of activities, and it’s important that they establish that RCs are covered by that.

In the meeting, I asked whether anyone had ever heard of a claim being made against their insurance, and no-one had. I think I heard one RC say they were paying £450/year for the insurance. I was horrified by that!

Hi Chris,

My apologies there and thank you for clarifying that point as I think it’s one which is well worth discussion.

Please take care and keep well.


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That is too much for a small, community organisation. What does seem to work, in economic terms, is when a regional group buys coverage for all of the groups in its region.

Thanks for those James, very useful and interesting.

I’m really sorry, I didn’t take any notes! I did love the event though and would definitely be up for attending more. I didn’t really know what to expect. I found all the talk about data gathering very useful. For some reason, in my head, I had assumed it should be something quite simple, or not very important mainly because I was talking to people who were questioning why I was spending so much time on it, but attending the event validated why I was doing it and also reassured me that it is normal for it to take so long as it is a such a complicated issue.


Yes, I totally agree. Our group have been looking at insurance, and really struggling to find anyone who will even agree to insure us at all. The other thing is, it feels really wrong that basically, all the money that people have donated to us would be ALL going to an insurance company. I think that most people who are donating money because they believe in the ethics etc of a repair cafe, would not be happy to know that their money is just paying an insurance company.

Really glad to hear that all the discussions about data were so useful Lee :slight_smile:
I do think it’s one of those topics that can seem pretty abstract to people during repair events, so it can be hard to communicate why it’s important. It’s one of those challenges we keep coming up against…

We’re running our 2nd Fixfest UK soon, which we hope will be another opportunity to pick up these conversations. It was due to happen in Glasgow, but we’ve now decided to run it online as a series of smaller events starting in late May. Do register your interest if you’d like to learn more or come along: