Each month we will be featuring a campaign or project from Leeds.

This month we have chosen to feature an entry from the 2023 Leeds’s Lent Prayer Diary; East Leeds Repair Café.

There are over 2,500 repair cafes around the world. The very first Repair Café was started in Amsterdam, on October 18, 2009 by Martine Postma, and since 2011 has become a worldwide movement seeking to preserve repair skills in local communities and encouraging manufacturers to design and produce more repairable items.

We have three here in Leeds:

  • Horsforth Repair Café – first Saturday of each month at St Margaret’s Parish Hall, Horsforth
  • Leeds Repair Café – Second Saturday of each month at Heart Centre, Headingley
  • East Leeds Repair Café – Third Saturday of each month at Cross Gates Methodist Church

Paul Coleman, Faith at the Margins Lead for Leeds Church Institute, shares his insights about the Repair Café in East Leeds.

“One of the most common repairs at the East Leeds Repair Café has been toasters. A basic toaster does not cost much, you can pick up a 2-slice toaster for about £15 online. Yet if that £15 comes out of your food budget in many cases this may mean going short on food, or maybe not being able to top up your gas or electricity. Yet for the most part repairing a toaster is very easy, providing you have the tools and knowhow to attempt the repair.

This is where our volunteer fixers come in.

Our “fixers” for the repair café come from a wide range of backgrounds across the community. Some come from a faith background and others have no faith. What brings them together is a desire to develop and share their skills and knowledge with others in the community. Helping others gain the confidence to repair their own items and keeping easily fixable items out of the city rubbish tips. It is not unusual for someone who has had an item repaired to volunteer at the next café session. We now have several volunteers who come to share the skills they picked up with others. It is amazing to see friendships forming amongst groups of people who would not normally encounter each other.

Since the first café session in September 2022 the volunteers at the East Leeds Repair Café have successfully fixed about 70 percent of the items brought in, saving them from the skip and saving their owners the cost of replacing them. Some of the items have had emotional significance each telling their own story. Every repair, whether successful or not, provides an opportunity for conversation and relationship, bringing people in the community closer together.”

If you would like to find out more check out the East Leeds Repair Café website or Facebook Group or email [email protected]