Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Repair Café culture comes to Corsham!

Before we participated in the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Slim Your Bin project I had never heard of a Repair Café. I'm not sure of the exact chronology but some time during (or maybe it was after) the SYB project, Emma (the Wildlife Trust's Waste Minimisation Officer) and Jen (My Make Do and Mend Year) got a Repair Café up and running in Warminster.  The idea behind the Repair Café is to provide a free meeting place where people can come and repair things together. Tea, coffee, and repair specialists are all provided, as are tools and materials. Whilst the idea of sitting back with a free cup of coffee watching a volunteer repairer mend your hoover or put a new zip in your jeans might seem very appealing, this is NOT what the Repair Café is about!

Last weekend I met Kathryn Houldcroft who is an inspiring and seasoned anti-waste campaigner; she's already run successful clothing swaps (or Swishes as they are called) in her village, and blogs about green living and parenting at Knee High Tales and her love of all things recycled, upcycled and thrifted at Second-hand Tales.  No surprise then that she is the brains behind our town's very first Repair Café. She was able to enlighten me more on the Repair Café philosophy - it is one of DIY - people learning to fix their own broken items. Not only does this keep stuff out of landfill and save the precious resources used in making new products, but it encourages us to have a different relationship with our possessions - loving and looking after the things we've got rather than constantly craving the new and shiny. 

Kathryn Houldcroft busy preparing Corsham's
first ever Repair Cafe!

Knowing that we Wiltshire people are at the forefront of innovative environmental initiatives, I mistakenly thought that the Repair Café idea was solely a Wiltshire thing. Wrong! We are part of a much wider network that started in Amsterdam in 2007. At the same time that Corsham residents are beavering away on Saturday 28 September, there will be Repair Cafés running in the US in Bolton and Oak Park. How exciting is that! And if you can't make it to our Café or to those in the States perhaps you can get to Berlin-Kreuzberg or Berlin-Spandau for their Repair Cafés a few days after ours. (Check out the Repair Café website for details of all Cafés worldwide).

The Pound Arts Centre Cafe last Saturday in a lull between
customers - hopefully it will be a hive of activity on 28 September.

Visitors to Corsham's Repair Café on Saturday will find somebody to help them with electrical repairs, carpentry, bike repairing and sewing as well as a chiropractor (human bodies need repairing too, remember). Someone will also be on hand to answer gardening queries and while you're sipping a cup of tea or waiting to chat to a repairer you can peruse the reading table with its DIY books and manuals, and laptop for googling.  

Kathryn asked expectantly whether I could be signed up as a repair expert in any field but I had to dash her hopes on that front. I'm not sure my bodging approach to hand sewn repairs and darning is quite what the Repair Café is looking for. I am, however, hoping to provide a warm welcome for visitors and a friendly face at the event, along with much enthusiasm for the cause, when I turn up to volunteer on Saturday. The one thing I won't be bringing is my broken gas oven. Sadly, broken gas ovens won't be catered for.

Corsham Repair Café at The Pound Arts Centre, Pound Pill, 
Corsham, SN13 9HX
Saturday 28 September, 2 - 4pm
(Further info at

Devizes Repair Café at the Corn Exchange, Devizes, 
Saturday 28 September, 10 - 12pm


  1. This is such a wonderful idea. I've heard about it before, but am looking forward to your report from actually going to one.

  2. What a great idea :) I googled it, but we don't have one in Brisbane just yet.

  3. Pleased to report Sydney has a bike one, but that's it. I remember reading about this idea, on your blog or Jen's, I think it's sterling! I don't think the BF even notices that I've mended his boxers, and he knows I've mended the visible tears in his shorts. It feels so good to mend stuff!

    1. A bike one's better than nothing. You're right - mending stuff is satisfying.

  4. Thank you for the BIG PLUG for Saturday! Am v excited and nervous. Expect lots of coffee and cake and (I hope) lots of people wanting things to be repaired.

    1. I'm sure it will go well! Look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

  5. Great looking site and congrats on the new blog for me. I’m adding it to my reading list.