Boothstown Repair Cafe Part 2
Why start your own Repair Café
I decided to start my own Repair Cafe because the 2 others in Greater Manchester were not really convenient to access from Boothstown; we are not blessed with great public transport links. If I found them inconvenient when I drive, then how would less mobile people in the local community access them? I also discovered that even though the Repair Café movement is growing and getting a lot of pubicity, it is still relatively unknown.
In June this year, Manchester Repair Café ran a series of roadshow events about how to start your own Repair Café so I went along to see what is involved and decided to take the plunge.
The first hurdle was to see how many volunteers I could recruit so I posted the idea on nextdoor.co.uk, explaining the concept and asking for volunteers. I got a reasonable response and also got the offer of help from friends and family.
While I was looking for a venue I came across a sewing group that had been set up by the local council. I gate crashed one of their weekly sessions and presented the Repair Café concept and asked if anyone would volunteer. Luckily, quite a few volunteered and they have set up a rota to come along and help with the textiles and sewing.
As we got closer to the first event, I went back to nextdoor.co.uk and advertised open meetings at a local cafe so potential volunteers could come along, meet experienced repairers and ask questions.
Finding a Venue
An ideal venue is large, well lit, with good access and parking. I did think about approaching local cafes as that would avoid us having to provide refreshments for visitors. Unfortunately, none of the local cafes matched all the other criteria. There are 2 other venues in the village that had potential – one is a council run community centre and the other is the village hall run by a charity. I went to the village hall first and they embraced the idea. As the Repair Café is a community, not for profit, venture they offered the venue free of charge.
The success of the Repair Café relies on publicity to get the visitors through the door. I created a Facebook page, Twitter account and email account and started following community projects, recycling projects and other Repair Cafés. A lot of community pages allow you to publish events so that helps to spread the word. Always promote other Repair Cafes in the area – it works both ways and one of my visitors found out about us because of the Levenshulme Repair Cafe. I also had 500 leaflets printed and spent a few lunch hours delivering them. It turns out that 1000 or more leaflets would have been closer to the mark but that is also a lot more shoe leather and time. I will get more printed when I have updated the photos on the leaflet because the local pub & cafe were both happy to have them on show. The final thing I did was to get a vinyl banner printed that I could attach to the railings outside the venue.
The most effective platform has been social media and word of mouth.FacebookTwitter
The initial outlay was less than £50 to join the Repair Cafe Foundation whch gives you access to a lot of useful information and also worldwide publicity. There are basic tools, spares and equipment that are useful to have when you start. Volunteers will generally bring their own tools but having a stock of glues, oil, cleaning agents, scraps of material for sewing, cotton, velcro etc is very useful. I did buy a bicycle stand when I saw one at a reasonable price (and this week realised I should have bought a bike pump as well). Always ask around and see what people will loan or donate to the Repair Cafe
The biggest single cost was the Public Liability Insurance. A condition for long term hirers at Boothstown Village Hall was that they have to provide their own PL insurance. When looking around to see what other people pay, it appears a lot of Repair Cafes don’t have PL insurance. This could be because it is provided by the venue but it is worth checking out. Arranging PL insurance took a lot of time and money.