Hitchin Repair Cafe opens doors for debut fix

PUBLISHED: 11:15 20 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:23 20 November 2019

Hitchin's first repair cafe was held at the Hackspace in Bancroft last Sunday. Picture: Anni Sander

Hitchin's first repair cafe was held at the Hackspace in Bancroft last Sunday. Picture: Anni Sander

Archant

The first Hitchin Repair Café opened its doors on Sunday, as a dozen community volunteers spent time fixing broken household items.

Hitchin's first repair cafe was held at the Hackspace in Bancroft last Sunday. Picture: Anni SanderHitchin's first repair cafe was held at the Hackspace in Bancroft last Sunday. Picture: Anni Sander

A total of 11 items were repaired by a team of local volunteers at the Hitchin Hackspace, on Bancroft, while residents watched on and learned how their everyday broken items can be restored.

Repair cafés are a growing phenomenon in the UK and beyond - over 1,500 are organised across 30 countries each year - as communities increasingly discourage residents from throwing away broken parts, in a bid to reduce waste and plastics.

All 11 items submitted at Hitchin's debut fix were successfully repaired, including a faulty travel pot, an old dial telephone, a chair that required reholstering, and a bike with broken gears.

For Stacey Gardiner, a volunteer at Less Waste Hitchin - a group dedicated to reducing household waste - said the idea to bring a repair cafe to Hitchin came about after frustration at not being able to repair her own headphones.

Hitchin's first repair cafe was held at the Hackspace in Bancroft last Sunday. Picture: Anni SanderHitchin's first repair cafe was held at the Hackspace in Bancroft last Sunday. Picture: Anni Sander

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"I had heard about repair cafés before, and the work they were doing in places like Royston," Stacey said.

"When I attended my first Less Waste Hitchin meeting, I suggested the idea of bringing a repair café to Hitchin.

"I had become increasingly frustrated trying to fix a pair of headphones. The wires had become loose and required only a simple fix, but the designers had made it deliberately difficult to repair them.

"It was at that point I realised that most things are not designed to be fixed - they are designed to be thrown away."

One of the aims of the repair cafe, says Stacey, is to "give people the confidence to fix things they would otherwise throw away.
"There are so many people out there who have the skills to repair household items. They just need to the encouragement."

The next Hitchin Repair Café will take place at the Hackspace in February 2020. To ensure mending skills meet demand, repair slots are booked in advance, with residents providing a description of the item and damage required for repair.

The Repair Cafe is the latest environmental initiative which has come to Hitchin, as the town aims to achieve 'plastic-free' status by the summer of 2020.

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