Repair Café – Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Repair Café?

Repair Cafés help people to get stuff fixed for free – stuff that might otherwise lie unloved at the back of a cupboard or end up in landfill when it could be brought back to life.

You either come and fix it yourself or get the help and advice of specialist volunteers to carry out a repair.

Repair cafés are springing up all over the world – over 1,000 of them are now operating, including in the UK and Ireland.

Doesn’t the Repair Café take business away from local repairers who do this for a living? 

Repair Cafés are not set up to compete with professional repair businesses. In fact, they are a great way to signpost people to reliable and reviewed professionals if a repair is too difficult to do at the Repair Café or needs specialist equipment.

The idea is to encourage people to think about repairing and reusing things, instead of throwing them away. This will actually help these businesses to keep going. We are building a list of friendly local repair businesses around the Peak District that might help be of use to others – let us know your recommendations by sending us an email to REPAIRCAFE@TDEG.ORG.UK.

Are there any categories of item which can’t be brought to the Repair Café?

All items need to be portable and easily brought into the venue. This means the Repair Café can’t deal with items the size of, say, washing machines.

Do we need to book to attend the Repair Café?

Nope – just turn up with your item. At busy times, we may need you to wait until a Repairer becomes available. But there are lashings of tea, coffee and cake available whilst you wait.

Will you be able to fix my item?

It’s good to think of a repair café as a clinic for broken stuff – where lots of problems can be diagnosed and many injuries patched up on the spot. Sometimes though, the problem is so complex you need a hospital. Most repair cafes have a success rate of 60-80%, and we’ll be aiming for that rate. So, for every five items brought in for repair, we hope we can fix three or four.

Sometimes, repairs require very specific tools, parts or knowledge which we don’t have. We’ll have a supply of general tools and materials, but it would be impossible to have the right part for every job. While our excellent team of volunteers have a wealth of knowledge, there will be some kinds of repairs where we don’t have an expert on the team that day. Some repairs are complex and can’t be carried out in the time available without turning everyone else away, something we would try to avoid! Sometimes manufacturers also make it really difficult for other people to repair their products.

Where your item can’t be fixed at the Repair Café, we’ll try to let you know as much as possible about the problem and other ways you might be able to get it fixed. And we’ll have a list of good local repair businesses you could approach.

We do ask that if something can’t be fixed, you take it away with you and take charge of disposing it as greenly as possible, as we don’t have the capacity to do this for you.

If your item is fixed at the Repair Café, it does not come with a guarantee that it will continue to work when you get it home. You will be made aware of the house rules when you bring an item to be fixed, which includes the fact that the Repair Café (or individual Repairers) aren’t liable for any damage to the item (or consequential damage) resulting the fixing process.

How much do the repairs cost?

Repairs are all carried out on a free, voluntary basis – there is no charge for repairs. If a specialist spare part is required to fix your item, you may be asked to source this at your own cost and bring your item back to a future Repair Café when you have bought the spare part.

The Repair Café does have various costs like venue hire so we encourage donations to help pay for this and future Repair Café events. Our Café also runs on a donation/pay as you feel basis.

How many items can I bring?

We don’t limit the number of items you can bring in, but only one item can be seen at a time. When you arrive, we see to your first item, then when it’s done you can hop back into the queue for the next item. On quiet days, people can go home with multiple items fixed, but if it’s busy we may only be able to fix one thing for you.

Can I bring my kids?

Everyone is welcome at the Repair Café, including families and children – we want to get the next generation thinking about repair too! As there are lots of people and tools around, we do need parents to stay with their children and supervise them at all times to keep everyone safe. There may be some areas that are not suitable for children, because of the type of tools and repairs taking place, but you are welcome with your children in the other repair areas and in the Café.

Can I donate items to the Repair Café?

At the moment, we can’t accept broken items as donations. We are often asked if we will accept broken items that people don’t want. Some people ask if we want to fix them up and sell them, or give them to charity. Organising our monthly repair sessions takes significant time from our volunteers, and we simply don’t have the resources to find new homes for broken items.

If you have specialist repair tools which you would like to donate, we may be interested if they are something we don’t yet have. Please speak to one of the Repair Café team.

How can I get involved?

We are always on the lookout for new repairers to join the volunteer team. If you, or anyone you know, might be interested, get in touch with the Repair Café team for a chat. We are particularly keen to speak to people with experience in repairing the following items: ceramics, small electrical items, small items of furniture, knife sharpening.

We also welcome volunteers to help with the general running of the Repair Café. So if you’re good at baking, or want to be part of the ‘Meet and Greet’ team, let one of the team know.

Volunteers don’t need to commit to attending every month (although you’d be very welcome if you can!).

Who runs the repair cafe?
The Repair Café is run entirely by volunteers who really believe in the idea of ‘make do and mend’. It sits under the Tideswell and District Environment Group, but there are no paid staff involved. The Repair Café received some set-up funding from the Tideswell Parish Council, Tideswell & District Community Association, Derbyshire Dales CVS and Derbyshire Dales District Council’s Local Projects Fund and encourages donations from people who attend the Café to help with running costs like venue hire.

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