What is a Repair Cafe?
We throw away millions of usable items every year. The repair cafe helps people to fix broken things instead of buying something new.
Posted by Channel 4 News on Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Globally electronic waste hit a record high in 2014 with an astonishing 42 million tonnes dumped in one year. That’s the equivalent of 1.15 million lorries — enough lorries to form a line 23,000 kilometers long, or the distance from New York to Tokyo and back.
Per capita Britain is one of the top five nations creating electronic waste. The average Briton dumps 23.5kg of e-waste each year, compared to just 1.7kg for the average African.
Repair Cafes are community events that match people who need stuff fixed with people who like fixing things. The international Repair Cafe movement kicked off in Amsterdam and now there are over a thousand Repair Cafes around the world covering most continents. Visit the webpage of the original Repair Cafe Foundation to browse a map of all Cafe locations.
Repair Cafes are completely non-commercial. There are no promises and no guarantees, but if something can be saved the repairers will give it their best efforts. Repairers are always keen to teach you how to do the repair – or at least have you watch while they do it.
Cambridgeshire is blessed with a large number of Cafes, with more starting up all the time. Local villages, towns and community groups are being supported to start their own Repair Cafes with the help of the Cambridgeshire Repair Cafe Network (CRCN). CRCN is a partnership between Cambridge Carbon Footprint, Transition Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire District Council and trailblazers Chris Moller of Cottenham Repair Cafe and Chris Lee of Royston Repair Cafe. Cambridgeshire Repair Cafes are supported by Mackays and Draper Tools.
When and where do Repair Cafes happen?
Repair Cafes are run by volunteers and you’ll find a Cafe happening most months in the Cambridgeshire and Royston region. They usually happen at the weekend and are organised by green groups, charities, enthusiasts, community groups and parish councils. There is no charge for entry or repair but donations are gratefully received and help pay for costs such as room rental. You’ll find a friendly cafe at each event, serving hot drinks and delicious homemade cakes. Each Repair Cafe is listed locally and on the Circular Cambridge website.
What can I bring to the Repair Cafe?
You can basically bring anything you can carry that will not make a mess in the venue. Here are some suggestions:
A bicycle, clothing in need of repair, small electrical or electronic appliances, lamps, toys, mobile phones, laptops, printers, items that need gluing, jewellery that needs a clean/repair etc.
Whatever it is, it might not even be broken – just dirty, and you don’t know how to clean it without damaging it – or you can’t work out how to use it without the manual – bring it along. You can even bring several things – though to be fair, you will have to join the queue several times!
Do I need to book in advance?
Most, but not all, Repair Cafes in Cambridgeshire operate some sort of booking system. This means you get to tell the organisers what you are intending to bring, and the organisers allocate you a timeslot with a suitable repairer and tell you what time to arrive. This doesn’t eliminate waiting because repairs sometimes take longer than the timeslot allocated, but it helps minimise it. Sometimes all the booking slots will be allocated ahead of the event in which case the organisers will let you know.
At all Repair Cafes you are welcome to turn up without booking. You can have some tea and cake, enjoy the atmosphere, and, if and when repairers get time, they will look at your item and fix it if they can. Just be aware that if all the repairers are busy they may not be able to look at your item.
What about spares?
Repairers may have common low-cost items (e.g. screws) in their Mackay’s toolkit which they will provide without charge. If you need something more substantial, the repairer will help you to identify the part, and suggest where you might be able to order it online – but it will then be up to you to fit it (or bring both to the next Repair Cafe!)
Visit an upcoming Repair Cafe
Find out more
Want to run a Repair Cafe?
We'll get you started with all you need to run a repair cafe in your local area.
Keen to learn about repair?
Check out resources and links on repair organisations and learn how to repair.
Need to find a repair shop?
Check out the Circular Directory. All of Cambridge's repair shops in one place.