Repair Café Kingston got off to an excellent start in Kingston Library’s community room on Saturday 4th February, with a constant hum of productive activity and chat. There were 17 volunteer repairers and organisers and 25 visitors, some of whom came just for a chat or to volunteer later, and 14 of whom went home with their broken possessions given renewed life or with some good advice on repairs. At times it seemed like a happy cross between TV’s “Antiques Roadshow” and “The Repair Shop” with some intriguing objects and a few of sentimental value, though the busiest tables, as might have been predicted, were those mending or advising on electrical and electronic appliances. The only disappointments were from some of the specialist but very versatile volunteer fixers who didn’t have quite enough to do, but perhaps next time will have more visitors with jewellery, wooden objects, toys, sewing machines, china... to mend.
“There was quite a buzz, thanks to our wonderful volunteer repairers and all those local people who would rather not just throw stuff away,” commented co-organiser Hilary Gander. “We were amazed by the way our volunteers just got on and helped people with such a wide selection of items; the biggest was an electric airer, and the oldest a much-loved ancient teddy bear.”
Co-organiser Marilyn Mason expressed relief that it had all gone so smoothly, avoiding the extremes the team had sometimes worried about: an empty echoing community space with no customers at all, or its opposite, a noisy impatient mob of visitors filling Kingston Library and stretching around the block. "We had so much positive feedback, and donations on the day even covered the cost of our refreshments, so we are now looking forward to our next Repair Cafe on the 4th March with some confidence," she said.
One of the volunteer fixers sent “congratulations to the team for a great first session of the Repair Café. I guess none of us knew quite what to expect but I for one was very pleasantly surprised by the numbers attending and the nature of the repairs we were asked to undertake. Clearly a need is out there to be catered for.”
And a satisfied visitor emailed, "Just to let you know I was very happy with the help I received. I had three of the guys to fix the connection, sadly we did not see the light as there was also a blown light bulb… I got also advice where to get replacement, and managed to do so - with a lovely result as it all shines bright now! These lights are from 1965 and very dear to me."
Do take a look at TTK and Repair Café Kingston social media for more photos: Transition Town Kingston Facebook Group, TTK twitter, or Repair Café Kingston Instagram. And find out more about Repair Cafe Kingston, how to volunteer and how to book repairs, at https://www.ttkingston.org/repair-cafe-kingston.
The Repair Café organisers are grateful to Kingston Library for the space and their warm welcome and all-round helpfulness, to John Lewis Kingston for a donation that enabled the project to move from idea to reality, to our volunteer fixers, to Save the World Club for the loan of their Portable Appliance Tester, to Twickenham Repair Café and others for a great deal of useful advice, and to Transition Town Kingston who have supported this project from the very beginning.
See also Kingston Council's news item about our Repair Cafe.