Cambridge Repair Cafe

By way of thinking globally and acting locally, I’ve recently joined a group called Cambridge Carbon Footprint as a volunteer and yesterday was my first outing with them. I was helping out at the Circular Cambridge Festival and Repair Cafe registering people who had signed up for electrical repair slots and running to get photocopies of the forms as we ran out multiple times! In my downtime, however, I was able to check out the rest of the event, which included a cake stall run by the local WI and some upcycled gift stalls.

Repair Cafe

The event was planned as an attempt at breaking the record for the world’s largest repair cafe in terms of number of successful repairs. What is one, you ask (much as I did when I was first asked to volunteer)? They’re community events where volunteer repairers fix items for free, and often teach the owners of those items how to make repairs themselves. It’s great if you don’t have tools at home and it meant quite a few items got saved from the skip today! Where things were irreparable, there were knowledgeable folks to responsibly recycle the items, or to tell people where they could get them repaired.

What sorts of items? I had a necklace repaired in mere minutes, while I think the longest fix was a coffee maker – at least two repairers were working on that for over an hour. Clothing and bikes were among the most popular items coming in, but there were also microwave ovens, hair straighteners, irons and stereos. One guy had come from Norwich to have his headphones repaired. Another woman said as she was leaving that she put £10 in the donation bucket because she was so pleased about getting her coffee urn fixed.

I was by the door of the event and so got to see all the coming and going and I was really encouraged, not just by how many items were successfully repaired, but by how many people were just curious to see what it was all about and how many different generations, professions and demographics were represented there. I had a great time chatting with my fellow volunteers and I’m really looking forward to working with CCF, Transition Cambridge and the other associated groups again.

And, good news! We broke the world record! We had to beat 150 and apparently over 230 were successfully repaired that day.


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