What is a Repair Café?

Repair Cafés are meeting places that are all about repairing things and bringing communites together. In the Repair Café you will find tools and materials to help you make repairs on clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, toys, etc... You'll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields. Visitors bring their broken items from home and together with the specialists, start making repairs. It’s an ongoing skill sharing process. If you have nothing to repair, you can still come along and just enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and some delicious homemade cake. Or you can lend a hand with someone else’s repair job.

Why a Repair Café?
We throw away vast amounts of stuff. Even things with almost nothing wrong with them that
only need a simple repair. The trouble is, lots of people have forgotten that they can repair things themselves or they no longer feel confident to try. It's also just too easy and cheap to get a replacement - you don't even need to leave your home but can have it delivered to your door! So the skills needed and the incentive to make repairs has sadly, been lost. Society doesn’t show much appreciation for people who still have this practical knowledge, and their skills are rarely called upon and often left unused.

 

The Repair Café changes all that! People who might otherwise be sidelined are getting
involved again. Valuable practical knowledge is being passed on. Things are being used for
longer and don’t have to be thrown away. This reduces the volume of raw materials and
energy needed for making new products. It cuts CO2 emissions and prevents landfill.
The Repair Café helps people to see their possessions in a new light and once again,
to appreciate their value. The Repair Café helps to change mindsets and behaviours which is essential to generate enthusiasm for a sustainable society.

 

But even more, the Repair Café intends to show how much fun repairing things can be and often how easy it is. so, why don’t you give it a go?!


Where did the idea come from?
The Repair Café was the brain child of Martine Postma. Since 2007, she has been striving for
sustainability in as many ways as possible and starting at a local level. She used her positions as a journalist, publicist, local politician, entrepreneur, citizen and consumer, to focus on decreasing the amount of waste we produce as a society.


When and where was the very first Repair Café held?
The first Repair Café was held in October 2009 in Amsterdam West. Martine Postma
organised this as a one off meeting in cooperation with the Municipality of Amsterdam. However, it was so successful that she decided to continue the endeavour and in 2010, she organised several Repair Café meetings at different locations in Amsterdam. These caught the attention of the media all over the country and more and more people began to take part.

 

So, Martine decided to establish a project that would give the Repair Café a footing all over

the Netherlands and even beyond. So in March 2010, the Repair Café Foundation was formed in Amsterdam. This project has led to Repair Cafés being organised in many hundreds of places all over the world. And that number is growing daily!


What are the goals of the Repair Café Foundation?
The aims of the Repair Café Foundation are very simple, it seeks to: 

a) reintroduce the art of repairing to the modern, local communities;

b) retain and spread repair knowledge and skills;

c) to promote social cohesion by bringing communities together, including neighbours from very different backgrounds and motives, in inspiring and accessible meetings.


The repairs at the Repair Café are free. Isn’t that unfair competition for professional
repairers like seamstresses and bicycle repair shops?

The people visiting the Repair Cafés at the moment are not customers of professional
repairers. They are people who are now tossing out their broken bedside lamp, blender, chair
or coat because getting it repaired is more expensive than buying a new one. By helping
people in the Repair Café in return for a voluntary donation, we avoid them having to buy a
new one. In that sense, we are not competing with professional repairers but rather with the
manufacturer, who wants you to throw away your old stuff and buy new. Furthermore,
visitors of the Repair Café learn that their items can be fixed a lot more easily than they might
have thought. That way, the chance that they will bring their broken items to a professional
repairer in the future will increase rather than decrease. And finally, people used to repair all
kinds of stuff at home even though there were also professional repairers at work so we are merely seeking to revive that practice.

For details of your next and nearest Repair Café, sign up for email updates or follow Gallery Valentine on your choice of social media!

If you are interested in volunteering to help with the event before, during or after; baking cakes and savouries, repairing, serving, sorting, setting up and tidying away, and so on, please get touch using the contact page - I will usually respond within an hour or two, but I always intend to get back to you in less than 48hrs if I'm a bit busier than usual.

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Dee Valentine