Top tips for recruiting fixers, let's help each other grow our groups!

Hi all,

I’m in the process of creating a guide on tips and tricks for recruiting fixers for repair events which will go up on our website. Does anyone have any handy tips they’d like to share? I’ll start:

  • Listing your group and event on Restarters.net
  • Community outreach, have some dedicated time to create a map of local events and networks that you could connect to
  • Attend local events like sustainability fairs, street fairs

Look forward to hearing your suggestions :slight_smile:

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  • Use local social media like Nextdoor to advertise.
  • Try to hold events at local community centres, church halls etc. that have their own communities already to leverage.
  • Link up with local government & other organisations for funding and publicity opportunities.
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These are things that have worked for us, especially when recruiting electrical fixers:

  • think about local employers that will have staff with the skills you want (or management that would like to tinker again). Don’t forget education sector and the forces

  • we’ve found some great male fixers who are retired and don’t use social media (their daughters and wives did - so think about pitching some ads to them) and use offline media e.g. neighbourhood newsletters, Mens Shed, posters in local shops, pub toilets

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I’m trying to see if we can get local refugees and asylum seekers with the requisite skills and interests involved. Paying bus fares and providing tools is really important. I’ll update, but this could be a great source of volunteers and give them a way to get more involved in the local community

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Great tips!
I’ll add one that may sound stupid but as it worked for me…

  • Go to the landfill and look for people picking up electronics: most of the time they are tinkerers :wink:
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We had a discussion on this yesterday in St Albans District Fixers. A few points:

  • In the past, most fixers have probably come from personal contacts. Anytime I meet someone who seems to know what a screwdriver is I generally sound them out as a potential fixer. Other members of our organising group do the same.
  • We set up a Facebok group which garnered 500 members in around a week. One or two fixers have come though that, sometimes a wife who joined our FB group and pushed her husband into it.
  • We operate as a project under the umbrella of Sustainable St Albans, which gives us organic links, including access to their publicity machine.
  • One of our members is currently in touch with the engineering dept of a local university. It seems there may be the possibility of both staff and students joining us in support of their community engagement programme.
  • One of our organising group who has never volunteered as a fixer and who I’d never realised had any such skills, said he always fixed his own stuff, but was very reluctant to fix other people’s. He didn’t mind (much) breaking his own stuff but wouldn’t want to risk (further) breaking anyone else’s. Education needed: we’re not professionals and don’t guarantee to fix anything, or even not to make it worse. Punters must understand that if their gadget is still working to a useful degree, do they want to risk even that degree of functionality?
  • I was considering running a fixing workshop: I could probably source a number of 32 bit laptops which can’t be reused running Windows 10 or even ChromeOS, and on which people could gain confidence taking screws out and disassembling something unfamiliar. Maybe we’d provide a basic toolkit partially funded by an attendance fee. But the feeling at our meeting last night was that laptop disassembly skills may not transfer to vacuum cleaners or table lamps as well as I’d assumed.
  • We have a teenager doing eco-stuff for her DofE Award who is keen to join us at our next even as a host and flipchart monitor. There maybe others who could be drawn in from the same or similar schemes.
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  • The students in the last year of technical schools could be involved, maybe via projects in collaboration with the school. In Torino - Italy - there’s a school holding restart parties on saturdays an d students are very happy to test their skills on real stuff
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Love these suggestions, have never thought of pub loos!

This is a great suggestion! Keep us updated :slight_smile:

These are great thoughts Philip!

How about contacting your local recycling centre too see if they’d be happy to give you other items that you could use for fixing workshop or a call out to the local community for broken items? This is something I want to experiment with too as a potential skill share, maybe we could have a call soon?

Shelini,
I’m not sure whether our experience here in Salisbury UK is common across the Uk but as the “recycling” centre is run by our local County Council we are entirely prohibited from removing anything from their site. Even asking a person who is about to leave an item in the skips whether they would be prepared to put it straight into our car is prohibited.
David.

I think that’s probably the general case outside London, where waste management is mainly managed on a county basis.

I’m sure your experience is not unusual
I’ve had some success doing things like this in various parts of London, but I suspect that this is because I’ve been very lucky.

I’ve had to deal with the legalities of ``waste repurposing’’ before and it’s complicated because:

  • to handle waste you have to be a licenced waste handler and
  • something becomes waste as soon as it is declared to be waste, implicitly or explicitly.

However, not everything that enters a waste handling facility is waste (otherwise the vehicles driving in, and all their contents, wouldn’t be allowed out :grin:) so there is no legal basis for enforcing the behaviour you describe, only council rules, and there is nothing preventing someone from declaring that an item is not waste and gifting it to you.
So you could challenge the behaviour of the council on the grounds that it doesn’t become waste until the other person (implicitly by chucking it in the skip or explicitly) declares it to be waste, so by forcing the other person to dispose of the item as waste when they haven’t declared it as such, the council is, in effect, stealing the item from the other person.

However, I am aware that the above course of action would be unlikely to succeed unless you have a good relationship with the people at the site and/or they are amenable to reason.

You could also try approaching the council officers and/or councillors directly to get the rules changed.
The alternative (getting lawyered up and legally challenging the council) would be unbelievably tedious and expensive :frowning:

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Again, it might be different because we’re in London, but at the Camden Fixing Factory, @Dermot_Jones is working on an agreement with the local waste facility, to get repairable/ reusable e-waste, but there’s a bit Memorandum of Understanding to wade through as you’d expect.

He also just pick ups things like toasters that people have left on the street (rescue toasters) so that people can try out repair in the Camden repair clubs, and repairers feel more relaxed as it’s not someone’s stuff.