My ambition to start Holmfirth Repair Cafe was from a desire to stop items from ending up in landfill and to encourage others to have a go at repairs.
I’m lucky enough to have some skills with textiles and my other half can fix just about anything with his understanding of mechanical and electrical items. Fixing things makes us both happy and has a direct impact on our environment and local community when we can repair, recycle, re-use and empower.
My love of fixing and mending comes from my parents. My mum sewed, knitted, gardened, made preserves and baked. My dad was an electrical engineer, but could turn his hand to woodworking, fixing engines and building. He was always happy wearing overalls and in his shed. I did a textile degree.
To bring the repair café to life, we’d raised funds through the Growing Great Places crowdfunding programme. We had 61 different backers from the local community, plus a pledge of £500 from Kirklees Council. In total we raised £2,310.
Getting the repair café off the ground wasn’t without its challenges though. The difficult thing was that as we were about to launch, the pandemic hit and we went into lockdown.
By chance I had made almost 50 face masks for a friend at West Yorkshire Police – some of the police had sent me donations of elastic. Other people wanted to buy the masks, but I didn’t feel right making a profit from it, so I said that there was no charge but would they consider a pledge for the Repair Cafe, and everyone did pledge, with some very generous donations. Collection was from our front gate.
Being in a position to make face masks, and now we’ve got going with the repair café, shows that there are lots of skills lost to more than one generation of people in our community. I now play a small part in restoring those lost skills. At the repair café, we do these things together.
Lots of the people who come to the repair café have this social conscience about the environment and not wanting to waste things. If we can fix something, we will. If we can show someone how to fix something, we will. If we can’t fix something, we can recommend a local business who can help. Sometimes people are grateful to know, if something can’t be fixed, it’s okay to dispose of it.
I’m grateful to be able to offer my skills to help people, alongside others whose skills and knowledge are different from mine. Not only is the repair café making an impact itself, the sense of community that has developed between us means we’re now even arranging our first social get together.
I find it so rewarding to help a generation where this kind of thing doesn’t come naturally. I want to see if we can help people. Help the environment. Help each other.
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Thank you to Caroline for sharing this story after running a successful Growing Great Places campaign. Growing Great Places is our community crowdfunding programme which helps people to get great ideas off the ground in their local place.