The BWCE Community Fund has helped Share and Repair in its mission to repair, reduce, reuse and recycle. Lorna Montgomery tells us how they are growing and reaching more people.

Share and Repair is a relatively new charity which aims to help local people and communities change behaviours, help the environment and save money through repair, reduce, reuse, and recycle. Our project base is growing and our main activities are:

  • Repair Cafes; where we mend items for free (but hope for donations) to keep them on the planet longer.
  • A Library of Things; our Broad Street shop houses around 400 items from a chocolate fountain and carpet cleaner to a garden hoe and drain snake, which people can borrow to reduce the number of items we all buy.
  • We also run HOW TO Workshops where we help people to Use their Sewing Machines, Use Power Tools and Maintain a Bike; all designed to empower people to do more for themselves and keep things longer through good maintenance.

See our website for more information

We began as Bath Repair Cafe, in 2017 and were assisted by BWCE to develop from our first Repair Cafe on Wellsway to currently ten Repair Cafes based across Bath & North East Somerset.  BWCE supported us to reach out to other communities and create more Cafes, alongside the necessary marketing and tools to equip each Cafe to work independently as well as the essential PAT Testers to ensure each electrical item is safe to take home. We are so grateful for this support which has allowed more people to access this service which prevents items going to landfill too early and saves carbon emissions from manufacturing.  Our aim is for people to think ‘mend before end’.  We also know the huge benefit our Cafes bring to the community in building cohesion, reducing loneliness and keeping often redundant skills going.

Following lockdown we have now resumed our most regular Repair Cafes in Southdown, Weston, Larkhall and Peasedown and plan to restart the Cafes in High Littleton and The University of Bath in November.  The atmosphere is not the same because we can’t have the Cafe part (kitchens are closed) and it’s generally by appointment only.  But we continue to repair about 70% of items we see.  We can now monitor the savings we make from both waste and Co2 emissions through entering the items data into the Fixometre for each Repair Cafe and getting a report on these savings.  For example, in our Larkhall Repair café on 15th February we had 48 participants and 8 repairers. The café saved 28 devices which prevented 48kg of waste and 275kg of carbon emissions.

We are so grateful to our volunteers who laboriously input the data into this clever thing.

Some of our repairs can be easy, some difficult and some funny! For example, not having batteries in the right way, a blown fuse, using the wrong adaptor or light bulb can be fixed quite quickly. However, taking a coffee machine apart when it has been made virtually impossible to do so, is very frustrating. And there have been occasions when someone just happens to have a spare part in their pocket, making everyone happy!   We want to put together a guide to the top ten things to do before thinking it’s really broken.  Watch our website for information soon.

We had a lovely example recently of a woman wanting her mother’s typewriter brought back to life as it was an important memory and she wanted to use it.  DIck spent a long time researching and subsequently mending two mechanisms so she could use it again.

Repair Cafes are normally great places to meet people, exchange ideas, get things repaired or even if it isn’t repaired you can then recycle it with an easy conscience.  See here for dates of both repair sessions in the shop and Repair Cafe Hubs, (appointments now required).

In 2019 we started a Library of Things, where people can borrow rather than buy (we know we all have too much stuff!).   Our beginnings were in a very small room/cupboard in the Weston Hub but we knew we needed more space for people to see what we do.  Bath & North East Somerset Council allowed us to have a four month lease as a proof of concept in March, unfortunately just as lockdown began.  Undeterred, we dressed the Broad Street shop window and waited. On June 15th we opened our doors to an enthusiastic and excited community, (using strict COVID guidelines), to both borrow items and to have repair sessions.

We are delighted to say people are incredibly passionate about what we are doing.  This, we believe, is something more and more people will want to use as the desire to take action against environmental problems grows. Also, as family budgets are tightened with the current world-wide COVID problems, our services will be even more in demand. One person commented “This is the best shop to open in Bath in the last 10 years”.

More and more people are donating/lending and borrowing items and joining the Library as a way of supporting what we do as well as making the best use of what we have to offer.  See here for more information.

To reduce the need for cars to collect and return items we are using a Bath & North East Somerset Council Cargo bike to ‘Try before we Buy’ to enable us to offer this service for a small fee. Already this is proving to be a popular way of people using the Library of Things.

We put on hold our HOW TO Workshops with COVID restrictions but tested the water recently with a small HOW TO Use your sewing machine session at Southdown which again was very well received.  We will publicise further workshops on Bike maintenance and Hand and Power tools soon.

Until now we have been run by volunteers. However, due to the huge commitment required for running the Shop on Broad Street we will be employing two part-time managers from November. We still have a growing number of fantastic volunteers without which we could not operate.  We are so incredibly grateful to them for their enthusiasm and commitment to our aims and objectives.

We have many exciting plans and hope that you may want to become involved in some way, our greatest need at the moment is for people to donate through our website and all donations up to £75 will be matched by the Local Giving £1m Coronavirus Fund, until November 8th or until the money has run out.  PLEASE DONATE here.

Thank you!