How does it work? Your questions answered…

So you have heard about repair cafe but do you know what to expect, how it works and how you can join in on the day?

Hopefully this will answer any questions you have, but if not, please contact us.

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Photo: Farnham Repair Cafe

What happens at a repair café?

Everyone is welcome at a repair café – bring a broken item or just come and see what’s its all about, enjoy a cuppa and some home-baking and show your support for this new project!

If you bring something which you want to get fixed, when you arrive we’ll will ask you to fill in a short form, telling us what it is and what is wrong with it – so we can find you the right fixer who can help. We’ll also ask you to read and agree our ‘House Rules’, common sense things like that volunteers are offering advice and help with repairs in good faith, and can’t be held liable.

Once a fixer with the right skills is free, we’ll introduce you and together you can take a look at the broken thing and what is needed to get it back in action again. Unlike when you drop your car into the garage and pick it up again later, we invite you to stay with your fixer, watch, learn and join in – it’s a great chance to find out more about how it works, how to look after and fix it yourself and get to know someone with these fantastic skills.

There’s also our pop-up café if there is a queue or after your repair has been done. As well as home-baking and hot drinks, there’ll be crafts for kids, boardgames and an inspiring book or two, all about upcycling and repair skills.

We ask people to put forward one thing to be repaired at a time. This means everyone gets a chance to get help. Once your item has been fixed, you can join the queue again with something else. Of all your broken stuff, you might like to decide which thing you want to prioritise.

What ‘fix-perts’ will be there to help with repairs?
We are delighted to have lots of volunteer fixers in our team, with a whole host of skills and experience including woodwork skills and experienced DIYers, so broken furniture or wooden toys are the things for them. There’ll be a strong team of sewing experts who can mend clothes, household furnishings, bags and even simple upholstery jobs. Thinking about things which plug in, we usually have computer fixerswho can help with various IT problems and some mobile phone problems. Also others with experience of electronics and basic electrics, so if you need a new plug, fuse changed or a lamp rewired, you have come to the right place. Lastly, we’ll have a couple of bike repairers who can help get you back in the saddle. Several of our volunteers are brilliant at turning their hands to anything, so we’ll do our best to help with whatever you bring along!

Will you be able to fix my item?

It’s good to think of a repair café as a clinic for your 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 to do that too as we get established in Belfast. So for every five items brought in for repair, we hope we can fix three or four.

Tools1 small pexel

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 a 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 an area in our café where people can suggest good local repair businesses they have used. We do ask 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.

Do I have to pay for repairs?

Repairs are all carried out on a free, voluntary basis. The repair café does have various costs and we do appreciate all donations which will be used to help pay for this and future repair café events. Our pop up café also runs on a donation/pay as you feel basis.


What kind of cake will there be at the Repair Cafe? You’ll have to wait and see…

Who runs the repair cafe?
The repair café is entirely run by volunteers who are really believe in the idea. There aren’t any established organisations or paid staff behind it, though some people and groups have helped us get off the ground.

We are only at the start of our repair cafe journey and we are already learning alot.

If you’d like to get involved in making repair cafes happen in 2018, please get in touch and we’d love to have you on board!

Can I bring my kids?


Everyone is welcome at a 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.

Where is the repair café taking place?

The repair cafe’s are held in community venues across Belfast. Make sure to follow us on social media or sign up to our newsletter to hear about the time and place of the next cafe.

Who came up with the idea of Repair Cafes?

Community repair events are taking place all over the world. The first Repair Café took place in Amsterdam in 2009, when journalist Martine Postma wanted to do something about the number of things being thrown out, when all it would take was a simple repair to get their back up and running again. She brought people together in the foyer of a theatre on a Sunday afternoon for an experiment – would people show up with their broken things, would their be enough volunteers with the skills? It was such a big success, that she began regularly organising events all over Amsterdam and the rest of the country, and formed a Repair Café Foundation to help people in other countries set up their own events. Find out more.


If you have any questions not covered here, please feel free to get in touch! We’d love to hear from you!


3 thoughts on “How does it work? Your questions answered…

Add yours

      1. Ok thank you very much – I don’t have new arms but I have lots of wood but no means of cutting it to shape or size – is that something I would need to get someone else to do first.

        Also where is Women’s TEC.


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