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Have you ever visited your local household recycling centre and been concerned at the amount of 'stuff' being thrown away?

 

Do many things look as though they could still have a useful life if someone took the time to repair them?

 

That's how we felt - and the idea for a Repair Cafe in Malvern grew out of our concern.  We know that many of the 2200+ possessions brought along for repair during the past three years have been saved from being sent to landfill.

 

Malvern turned out to be the ideal town to start a Repair Cafe and it has grown to become the most successful in the UK with an average of 52 customers coming to each session. 

 

The Repair Cafe is totally volunteer-managed and has many benefits for its local community, including:

 

  • Raising awareness on the true value of our possessions and highlighting the, often very simple, repair needed to extend a product’s life
  • Reducing waste to landfill
  • Reducing our continuing overuse and consumption of dwindling finite natural resources
  • Reducing carbon emissions and the embedded energy in manufacturing new or recycling used products
  • Saving on household budgets by not having to replace broken items with new
  • Reviving long-lost or forgotten practical, hands-on skills and teaching new ones offering the opportunity for upskilling
  • Providing a friendly café environment where people can meet up with old friends and make new ones
  • Helping us all to value our possessions

 

“We live in a throwaway society. Not many things are built to last and it’s a shame that a lot of people just don’t have the skills to repair or mend things that break down. Many of the skills that our volunteers are using today are sadly dying out and it would be a huge shame if they end up being lost to the current generation.”

Jan Dyer, Chair of Malvern Hills Repair Cafe

 

A community project to inspire repair and re-use!

 

Perhaps one of the most important benefits is raising public awareness on the unsustainable nature of our ‘throwaway’ society. For many years we have been told by successive governments to consume more to help economic growth and that it’s better, easier and cheaper to buy a new replacement item than repair a broken one. Even manufacturers do not make it easy for many everyday household appliances to be repaired and built-in obsolescence is often used to describe the short working life of many manufactured products. These arguments have been helped by the fact that the knowledge and ability to ‘make do and mend’ has been lost over the years and valuable practical skills are not being passed on down the generations.

During the past three years, Malvern Hills Repair Café has helped to change this attitude by reviving the ‘repair culture’ and demonstrating the real and lasting value of acquiring and maintaining useful practical skills, whatever your age or circumstances. Every customer is encouraged to sit, watch, talk to and work with the repairer so that they can see how the repair is done and pick up a new skill or some helpful advice in the process. Most of all, the Repair Café is great fun and shows how satisfying it is to be able to repair something yourself!

 

Local professional repair specialists

 

The organisers of the Repair Café make every effort not to compete with local professional repair businesses.  Its advice and repair services operate as a ‘clinic’ not a ‘hospital’.   After an initial examination and diagnosis of the problem, the majority of repairs turn out to be very simple and straightforward but if more specialist help is required, the repairer will offer the appropriate advice and recommend a local professional if one is known to exist.

Experience has shown that most people who visit the Repair Café have already tried – unsuccessfully - to find someone who can repair their possession. Others have found that the cost of repair is too expensive. 

 

"Items are generally hand-portable and no repair is too small and our repairers always enjoy responding to a unusual challenge!  Only one item per customer is encouraged but quite often the repairer will work on more than one if there isn't a queue and he has the time."

Chris Dyer, co-founder of Malvern Hills Repair Cafe

 

Since 2012, the Repair Cafe has been based at Malvern Cube, the popular community centre in Albert Road North.  In November 2015, it moved to the Quaker Meeting House, 1 Orchard Road, Great Malvern, WR14 3DA.  The first session took place on 14 November, the second Saturday in the month as the third was unavailable - but from December 2015 onwards, the Repair Cafe will be open as usual on the third Saturday in every month. 

 

What happens at a Repair Cafe session?

 

On arrival, all customers are required to complete a Registration Form.  The house rules are printed on the reverse and it's important that all customers read and understand them and then sign the disclaimer before seeing a repairer.   We ask that everyone accepts that all repairs are undertaken at their own risk.  The Repair Cafe management reserve the right to refuse any item if it is deemed to be in a dangerous condition and also cannot take responsibility for any item once it has left the premises. 

The Registration Form asks for a few personal details which are confidential to the Repair Cafe and are used only to maintain the records and statistics.  If they wish, customers can provide an email address which ensures they receive regular reminders about future Repair Cafe sessions, either in Malvern or elsewhere.  The mailing list is never passed to any other organisation.

After registration, the customer is directed to a suitably skilled repairer who will examine the item, diagnose the problem and offer advice before proceeding with the repair. In the case of an item being damaged or broken beyond repair, the repairer will discuss the options which may, if required, include guidance on its safe disposal. 

Although we normally have 12 repairers available at each session, at busy times such as the first hour after opening, sometimes a queue may form.   Customers are then invited to wait in the café area and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and one of the delicious homemade cakes we always have on offer.  We try and keep waiting times to a minimum but the café also provides the opportunity to sit and chat and make new friends.