Restart grantees: update on regional activity to boost community repair in the UK

We’ve reached the mid point for our small grants with groups in England and Northern Ireland:

Our grantees have loads of inspiring activity and learning to share already. We’d like for them to post some or all of their narrative updates to us here, so you can read about it too! @Nicole @Victoria_Jackson @CHRIS_MCCARTNEY @Lorna_Montgomery we look forward to reading your messages :slight_smile:

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An update from Repair Cafe Belfast! What we’ve been up to since November…

We began the project by spending some time mapping all the enquiries and potential partners we have across Northern Ireland. This allowed us to see where there are clusters of potential support and target those areas with several likely groups and individuals that we could start building relations with. Off the back of this we reached out to a first round of contacts and started to see where local communities were ready to take things forward with our support. As we approach the end of December, we are having several conversations at different stages:

Our goal was to get to the stage of holding 5-6 public information meetings in areas with repair cafe interest. So far, one meeting has been held (Newcastle) and another is scheduled for 12 January (Portadown).

In Newcastle, 25 people attended a public meeting on 20 November and took part in a lively discussion with lots of ideas. A steering group emerged from the public meeting and has been continuing local planning. A group will join us at our January repair cafe to see how it works behind the scenes. We are in discussion with them about organising a couple of training workshops. They hope to hold their first pilot repair cafe on 29 February.

In Portadown, we met with local volunteers who run an eco market and have access to the market hall for holding regular or occasional repair cafes. We also met with a supportive local council official and have connected them with each other. They are planning to arrange a public meeting on 12 January and to visit our repair cafe in Belfast in February as a group.

One challenge we have identified with old enquiries to which we did not previously have capacity to respond, is that sometimes it’s hard to pick up the conversation again and priorities have moved on. This really highlights the importance of having the flexibility and capacity to respond when people reach out to us. As well as continuing to follow up with enquiries we are also exploring other ways to connect with people who are thinking about forming repair cafes - perhaps a talk or workshop at one of our spring repair cafes. We are looking forward to joining an event like this in Glasgow in January and to considering whether this is the right way forward for us. We are also inspired by Share and Repair Bath to use some of the funding (approx £100) to put together a starter kit that could be lent to groups for their first event.

We have met with the lottery community fund locally to discuss a potential application to allow us to continue and build on the work we are doing currently, so that momentum is not lost. Being able to show the interest and the impact that our support is making on people going forward with organising repair cafes/groups will really help us make our case!

As a result of an earlier pilot project, the first repair cafe in Northern Ireland outside Belfast was held on 16 November. A group has been formed to organise regular events in Antrim and Newtownabbey area and we continue to offer practical and moral support to them. They’ll host another cafe on 18 January.


Hi This is Bath calling!
Our aim is to expand a growing network of Repair Cafes and reach a younger a audience; restart our ‘HOW TO Workshops’ and create a crib sheet of Things to Try before you come to a Repair Cafe.
Repair Cafes
We currently run 4 regular cafes one of each Saturday of the month. In late November we had one very successful RC at the University of Bath with the bonus of a video ( and more to come. Dates planned for the Spring term - February 27th, March 26th and April 23rd. Students and staff are on board.

High Littleton RC starts on February 15th in conjunction with the BIG FIX, and Bear Flat RC starts on March 21st.

Marshfield needs a follow-up.

I am also going to talk to Malmesbury (Wiltshire) about setting up RC and LoT on January 11th at theihr CLimate Action Day - very good day.
We now have requests from Farmborough and Stratton on The Fosse to establish there.

Overall our RC’s are busier and busier, this has been helped by having a display of banners and leaflets outside the Bath Library and Waitrose Cafe (and toilets!) for 2 months. More volunteers and visitors.

HOW TO Workshops have a timetable until the summer starting on February 1st with a sewing/HOW TO use your machine workshop. This was a hugely successful morning with 8 people (capacity was 6 but we somehow allowed 8! - which was too many for the 3 instructors) Our other Workshops (there will be 4 for each topic) HOW TO Use hand and power tools and How to Repair your Bike are filling up. Very exciting.

Connecting with Restart

We are changing our registration form to get more information about the items seen and have someone willing to upload them. Time will tell how successful this will be. - Its going well and people are really interested to know what savings we are making!

Lorna came to The Restart Party on January 16th to become more familiar with the people and the projects. It was great to be at basecamp and meet everyone who was super friendly. I also got help from James on moving around the web site (very tricky!)
Love being involved with Restart, the energy and support it offers. Thanks!


Brighton Repair Café here!

Since receiving the funding we have been able to dedicate more time to administration and have therefore become more organised in our approach to organising events, our social media and responding to enquiries about our organisation and events from press and individuals. For example, we have not set up Google Drive Docs for tracking and reporting activities and hold fortnightly planning meetings.

Attendance at our monthly events has increased due to our ability now to regularly and swiftly respond to social media enquiries and publicise events in advance and more frequently via Facebook, Wordpress, Twitter & We have also recruited a PAT tester and 2 other volunteers who will join our team in January 2020.

We are now able to offer email support to new groups asking for advice and have invited several fledgling groups to shadow our activities at our monthly events. We are currently offering guidance and support in the set-up of Hasting Repair Café and Saltdean Repair Café. We are encouraging each of the Sussex Repair Cafés and our own volunteers to join and have started compiling a list of Repair Cafés in Sussex on our googledrive, in order to publicise on the Brighton Repair Café blog. This will be a comprehensive list of where and when people can go each week to learn how to repair their things.

In addition to securing our monthly events at Hanover Community Centre for 2020, we have organised 4 additional events for 2020 and established new partnerships with:

Emmaus (the charity working to end homelessness):

● On the 15th February Emmaus will host BRC for the BIG FIX 2020.
Co-ordinated by Catherine Causley, Re-Use Project Officer at Devon County Council this is an attempt at creating the Britain’s biggest repair café by many of the UK repair cafés holding linked repair events on the same day and sharing their repair data, social media campaigns and stories. At the event we will invite participants to fix their own things or to help Emmaus by repairing items donated to their shop so that they might be sold and encourage future support with this from the public and community; for example potentially setting up an Emmaus voluntary repair group to specifically cater for the need for donated items to be repaired ready for selling to raise money for the charity.

Brighton Jubilee Library:

● On 22nd January, we will be part of Shine a Light’s Conversations under the Chandelier we will be on a panel to discuss Things and Climate Change. This public conversation will be about the consumption of materials, the Circular Economy and the Right to Repair Movement also on the Panel is Jo Godden founder of RubyMoon

● On 17th October, we have provisionally booked a repair event at the Jubilee library for International Repair Day.

Brighton University:

● On the 28th March, we will be holding a breakout session at Green Architecture Day - a day of cutting edge talks on sustainable architecture run by Brighton Permaculture Trust and Low Carbon Trust

In January we aim to identify opportunities for future funding, making funding applications, transitioning to digital data capturing, adding data to the Fixometer, creating a database of repair resources and researching more rigorous insurance policies.

We look forward to continued work with Restart in 2020!


Hi from Portsmouth…here’s a little update from today’s sunny south coast:

Actions Taken To Date:

Potential New Repair Cafés in the Region

  • Havant - after their initial meeting (which I spoke at), they’re currently sourcing venue, volunteers and developing marketing. Each month one or two of their potential team will come along to our Repair Café to see it in action.

  • Paulsgrove (Portsmouth) - the Council contact has gone rather quiet on this one. I think the key is to find some passionate locals to get it off the ground, but it’s an area of the city with lots of depravation challenges. Plan to see what other community groups I can contact in the area to see if we can get more people aware of the idea and thinking about getting one off the ground with the Council and Community Centre’s support.

  • Landport (Portsmouth) - have another meeting in March with the Enability Lead to explore the idea of a pop up event in May to test the water with the local community.

  • Portsea (Portsmouth) - I’ve been approached by a contact at the community centre there, who is interested in us doing a pop up in June or July to test the water in Portsea (another deprived ward in the city, where getting local people engaged would be key to anything being set up)

  • Gosport - have had chats with two people who are interested in getting one off the ground, but don’t have enough capacity to do it alone. Encouraged them to set up an initial meeting (as we did in Havant) to explore interest and find other volunteers. The question is whether they’ll make this happen - watch this space.

  • Isle of Wight - open event on 14th March which I’ll be speaking at, to explore interest of setting one up on the IOW (possibly Newport to begin with). Seems they had one in the past, but it didnt’ last, need to explore why, but times have changed, so may be the time now.

  • Milton (Portsmouth) - spoke at Milton Neighbourhood Forum on 26th Feb, and have at least one person interested in leading on setting one up in this area of the city. Have supplied her with a copy of our toolkit and will meet with her in the next couple of weeks. (She’s also about to run for a Council seat - so wonder what capacity she’ll have to do much before June.)

  • Eastney/Southsea (Portsmouth) - interest from Southsea Lifestyle magazine editor to get one off the ground in the south of the city, and he’s up for supporting it with his publication. I’ll be speaking at their neighbourhood forum on 11th March to gain more support to form a team to get one going.


I’ve secured an iFixit tool grant of €500 and will be ordering some toolkits which will be shared amongst the new groups setting up in the area.

PR & Marketing
BBC Radio Solent interview on Big Fix & Repair Cafés on 14th Feb
Article written for Milton Matters (Community Magazine)
Social media campaign around #LongLiveMyPhone

Other things
Promoted and supported Big Fix 2020 - all data submitted to Devon contact. Will publicise country’s results once they’re provided.
Attended Portsmouth Climate Youth Strike on 14th Feb and focused on getting signatures for the #LongLiveMyPhone campaign. Used Chloe’s idea of a crime scene, which was really good at getting people to stop and engage in their walk through the square on their lunchbreaks. (I didn’t manage to get an accurate number of signatures gained during the strike as my kids were also off asking people to sign it, and we lost track…but there were 75 UK signatures gained that day and 57 the following, so we’ll take credit for a good proportion of them :slight_smile: )
#LongLiveMyPhone petition - had a volunteer role for gaining signatures during our Repair Café on 15th Feb.
A new Repair Café/Right to Repair banner to be used at strikes etc has been designed and is being made by a local artist. Several people responded to the social media request to get involved. We also have a local project that supports adults with learning disabilities, making a banner for us as part of their creative work.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Having a creative activity that engages people at climate strikes was successful. The crime scene was ineractive and across the route through the square so people couldn’t avoid it, and many stopped to read the facts. Having an iPad there so that people could sign the petition on the spot, meant we got lots more signatures than if we ask them to do it at home later.

  • Getting more Repair Cafés off the ground in the different areas, really needs one person with the driving force and passion to make it happen, but it’s also essential that they get a team around them. Setting a date for a first meeting to explain what a Repair Café is, and find out who’s up for helping get it started is a good first step, and using social media alongside community publications generates a great deal of interest.


February 15th – Market Harborough Fixers C.I.C - Repair Café update

We were involved in the Big Fix nationally and it was a great success as I am sure many others were & you my all know about already.

72 Repair Cafes signed up to take part in the event but unfortunately due to Storm Denis 6 had to be cancelled. But the storm did not deter our locals from attending our Café.
From our records 80 items were brought to the event to be looked at, of which 33 were completely repaired and only 8 items were declared unfixable.
The rest needed parts or further attention.
Of the items brought in 41 were electrical, 13 jewellery, 11 textiles, 3 clocks, 3 toys, 2 books and 2 bits of furniture.
The event was staffed by 33 volunteers, repairers and other staff needed to support the event.
As well as ticking the box for the cause this is actually a great social event with many people networking and enjoying attending as visitors and going home with a FIXED loved item.
We got the usual local paper media support too, & were nearly a fixture in the local papers nowadays!!! This has the effect of free advertising & encourages new volunteers for future events.

Weekly Events – Market Harborough Fixers

We have started a new small Repair Clinic workshop every week in the Ecovillage in Market Harborough. It’s in the third week and we are encouraged by people coming and bringing their items, we have been posting notices on our Facebook page and its working well. (now suspended t be re-opened after lockdown hopefully)

New Repair Café’s – Support

We are in discussions with potentially 4 new Repair Cafes and offering support for their first events, this is work in progress. They have to get fixers obviously to kick this off but we are supporting with start-up material and offer of some of our Fixers support, if they are local to us, still in discussions, it’s a bit slow to start with but lots of positive feedback and we are enjoying working with like-minded people.

Training Courses.

We are currently investigating the best courses to attend, particularly local ones, one volunteer has attended a Social Media course so we can have the skills to communicate with this method making the most of social media, the day proved very successful and we have new skills.
We also have plans for other Training Courses: possibly to be held at teh EcoVillage

Managing Volunteers (2 booked on this course)
Technical Training for phones, laptops
Repair courses in the Ecovillage work in progress for new potential fixers

How to Start your own Repair Café

We have prepared a guide, this is for new Repair Café ventures and will help enormously to get the new Repair Café up and running quicker with our experience and support as the ‘How to run your our own events.’ (we’d be happy to share this )

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