Repair Cafes

I have just discovered Repair Cafes, and I am loving the concept!

They are free meeting places and are all about repairing stuff, together.

I think the original Repair Café was started by Martine Postma in the Netherlands, and now they are springing up all over the place.

I have paraphrased from the Repair Café website to try and explain the whole thing a bit better:

“At a Repair Café there are the tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, et cetera.
And there are also repair specialists such as electricians, seamstresses, carpenters and bicycle mechanics.
Visitors bring their broken items from home. Together with the specialists they start making their repairs in the Repair Café. It’s an ongoing learning process. If you have nothing to repair, you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Or you can lend a hand with someone else’s repair job. You can also get inspired at the reading table – by leafing through books on repairs and DIY.”

Just the other day I had a conversation with a friend about the fact, that often, when something breaks, we would rather try and fix it than throw it away, but often don’t have the necessary knowledge, skills or equipment, or know how to access them.
Well Repair Cafes are working to change all that!

They are SUCH a fantastic idea-skills get shared and passed on, equipment can be shared, stuff is saved from landfill, and it saves new stuff being made, and the drain on resources that this creates.


To quote again from the Repair Café website:

“The Repair Café teaches people to see their possessions in a new light. And, once again, to appreciate their value. The Repair Café helps change people’s mindset. This is essential to kindle people’s enthusiasm for a sustainable society.
But most of all, the Repair Café just wants to show how much fun repairing things can be, and how easy it often is. Why don’t you give it a go?”

Here in the UK, there are currently Repair Cafes in London at the Good Life Centre, Brighton, and the Malvern Hills.

On the website there is a section for setting up your very own Repair Café, and the support that is available to help you.

And there are several other similar projects, including Remade in Edinburgh, and the Restart Project, who are in and around London, and have got this great page on their blog on How to Run a Restart Party.

How cool would it be to have a Repair Cafe or similar in every town and city?

I would love love LOVE to have one near me, and even to set one up. My stumbling block is finding the people with the relevant skills who would be happy to volunteer to pass them on. Any ideas where I might find people like this? Do you think I can put an ad in the Lonely Hearts..?!

Anyone else up for this?!

32 thoughts on “Repair Cafes

  1. Really love this idea, I think it would work better in somewhere like Hereford where I am from originally, rather than where I live now in the outskirts of West London. It’s quite a commuter sort of area here. I’d love to be involved but just not sure how!

  2. I think the key is finding retirees, if it’s being run during ‘normal’ hours, otherwise, just kind hearted people. How to find them? Put the word out at the ‘real’ mechanics, tailors etc etc, and even have little flyers. If there’s a few communal places, put up an ad – like libraries, (maybe doctors surgeries… cause I feel like *some* retirees spend a bit of time there!), community centres etc. Sounds great, I hope you get it off the ground, I’d love to have the same thing here in Sydney

    • I have to agree that retired people are the gold-mine here. Many of them have the skills you’d need — the knowledge about how to do the repairs, etc., as they had careers in the era before use-and-dump. Being from the US, this might mean flyers at the senior center in town, or flyers up at an assisted living center. In fact, I think the assisted living would be the best! You might also try putting announcements in local church bulletins. Oh, and if you have a local cafe/restaurant that is a gathering place for retirees for breakfasts or lunches that is an excellent place to “beard them in their dens,” also! (For example, we have a local cafe where a fairly significant group of retiree-age widowers eat breakfast every morning for some social interaction and a good meal.)

      What a super idea! *I* want a Repair Cafe! kristin

      • Great ideas-thankyou Kristin!
        There is a great project called ‘The Amazings’ in London, that uses only over 50’s to teach their classes and pass on their skills-loving it 🙂

  3. What a fantastic concept – I am going to ask around here to see what people think. I come from a family where little was bought and everything was mended. My father was a camera repairer however the intro of digital cameras finished his business forever. I don’t like new things I like to be surrounded by old familiar belongings that can be mended and last forever.

  4. I have heard of this concept. But, alas, we have none in our immediate area, either. The US is always a bit behind for these types of things usually. My father in law would be great for this sort of thing. Maybe I can ship him to you?

  5. Love this idea, our local City Farm are hoping to do something similar (before our Council get wind of it and try to regulate it due to Health & Safety like they did with our Time Banks – having to make sure the repairers had the ‘proper’ qualifications etc). The joys of living in South Yorkshire!

    Anyway, this would be a great tie in with your ‘upcycling’ workshops, why not try and run them together? You could try running an ad in the loca free paper, , printing flyers and dropping them through mailboxes, (and seeing if the local marketstall holders will put a pile of them on some stalls, put some in your local library, on church noticeboards, in local wholefood stores etc. Maybe even approach your local DIY store to ask if they could get involved by donating time, materials and skills. Get all your friends to ask their parents if they know anyone, ask at schools, playgroups etc. If you arent doing it to make money you could see about advertising on Freecycle. If anyone can put this together it will be you, look at what youve done in the last 7 months that you would never have dreamed of before.
    Bite the bullet and go for it!

  6. Hi! We started with literally 2-3 volunteers. As we kept hosting events and building our network, we were able to recruit more repairers and fixers. Our volunteers come from all age groups and professions. We try and offer night-time weekday events and weekends to accommodate everybody. We just published these suggestions about how to run an event – would love to hear your feedback

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  8. This is a fabulous idea!
    I work at a Children’s Centre and we have plenty of grandparents that use our services when they are looking after their grandchildren. Very often they have a wealth of talents that they can pass on, for example we have had people talking to the children about making their own toys as children.
    Sometimes they are retired (even better, retired skilled workers) and may welcome the opportunity to voluntarily take part in a repair cafe. It might be worth your while researching local ‘grandparent’ groups and putting the question out there??
    Good luck x

  9. We’ve got one that’s just started here in Sheffield! (Possibly where KiwiJo is referring to…). Link here:

    Sadly I missed the first meeting, but all kinds of repairs were due to happen I believe.

    Ours started because Transition Sheffield put a call out for people wanting to run workshops in anything remotely transition-y. We had compost making and gardening, and someone came forward offering to run a discussion about setting up a repair cafe.

    About 12 people turned up to the first meeting, some just interested in the idea, some with time on their hands and ability to fix things, some with bike workshops, or other workshop space. A few people with more time and energy met later over pie and peas in the pub I believe, and a few short months later, Sheffield’s first (hopefully of many!) repair cafe was born.

    Very excited about it all, and hopefully I’ll be able to make it to the next one. If anyone does a write up of how it went I’ll come back and post it…

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  11. Try getting in touch with the members on, I’m fairly sure there will be quite a few members who are thinking along the same lines as you!

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