*Cleanzine_logo_2a.jpgCleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 23rd May 2024 Issue no. 1115

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My mother used to enjoy me watching TV with her but because of her dementia, I needed to be mindful of programme choice. The BBC’s ‘The Repair Shop’ was always a good one and she’d often sit smiling at the wonders worked with ordinary people’s broken treasures by the various repair experts. I don’t know if it was the programme that inspired them or whether the BBC uncovered a growing trend, but ‘repair cafés’ are popping up all over, and – as someone who’s long been worried about the ‘civilised’ world’s ease of condemning items to landfill that could with a bit of effort and imagination either be repaired or repurposed at a much lower cost than replacement – I love the idea. 
My friend Martin's involved in setting one up in Portsmouth and his Facebook post asking for crowdfunding (https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/portsmouth) showed me that other friends are already using similar facilities in their own areas. One, whose son’s electric blanket failed, took it to her local ‘repair café: “Every third Saturday, you can take anything in, and lovely people volunteer their time to fix things,” she wrote. “You’ve got to get there early as there are long queues.” So clearly, there’s a demand for the services these places offer then… In this case, the repair took just a few minutes. A small donation was made and some cake bought from the café part. “Hooray for volunteers who love fixing. And those who run it. It’s superb!” said my friend. “They also sell tasty cakes. I convince myself that buying cakes is a way of donating. And knowing it was a broken thermal resistor in our case - and that it was easy and inexpensive to sort - will encourage others with a similar problem to seek a repair rather than send to landfill.” 
Like most of my friends, I hate the throwaway society we've become and feel this is partly down to us not having been taught how things work & how to repair them if they fail, plus a lack of affordable repair options. Repair cafés are the perfect answer. I wonder whether this is just a British thing (please let me know if you’re reading this in one of the 160-ish non-British countries in which Cleanzine is received and there are repair cafés nearby). I also wonder whether there’s any mileage in teaching customers – perhaps by allowing them to watch the repair of their own items – how to mend things for themselves, or whether there’s perhaps an option for those who want to learn to repair, to spend entire days in the facility observing how things are done? Small steps…


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Jan Hobbs

9th February 2023

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