Worcester Repair Cafe: where fixing things is a labor of love


It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the Worcester Repair Cafe saved the world. Well, fixed anyway.

Because fixing a wonky globe, noticeably off axis with the North Pole somewhere towards the Mediterranean, has been just one of the wonders achieved by the volunteer experts who meet every second Saturday of the month at Unity House in Hill Street.

Inspired by the hit BBC TV series directed by Jay Blades, the Worcester version regularly attracts up to 90 people per session, who arrive with broken items ranging from electric toasters to fine china, lawnmowers to toys for children. From sentimental to purely functional.

The parasol with a wobbly reel

There was even a dancing Santa who wouldn’t dance, a cuckoo clock that no longer cuckoo clocked, and an 8-foot-tall patio umbrella with a wonky winder. Recycling is what it’s all about.

The man behind the company is Rod Howell, whose day job, somewhat surprisingly, is in air traffic control, but he has gathered around him a group of over 40 qualified people with, as he says, “the experience of a lifetime in DIY”. .

VCRs are now yesterday's gadgets.  Good job someone can fix them.  Teleport me, Scotty

VCRs are now yesterday’s gadgets. Good job someone can fix them. Teleport me, Scotty

It all started when Rod learned that a repair cafe was operating in Malvern. He could see the potential in Worcester and now the Unity House project is a partnership between Transition Worcester and the Duckworth Worcestershire Trust with Rod heading the steering committee.

Sparks fly when a mower blade is sharpened

Sparks fly when a mower blade is sharpened

“We first needed an army of repairers,” he said, “so we started by putting up posters in public places like parks, supermarkets, shops and on billboards. community displays. We wanted to attract volunteers who were good at repairing and would volunteer their time, because they don’t get paid!

Wait while ace designers Gill Kincaid and Jenny Wilkinson get to work

Wait while ace designers Gill Kincaid and Jenny Wilkinson get to work

The first to answer the call was a social sewing group that meets at the Pump House Environment Center in Waterworks Road. The members had all the skills needed to repair needlework and everything grew from there.

The Queue Waiting for Connection

The Queue Waiting for Connection

Now Worcester Repair Cafe has experts in electrical, mechanical, carpentry and general repair work on anything from a 4ft long children’s car to a stuffed toy or video recorder.

The question, of course, is how much does it cost?

You really can't see the knuckle as a fine china horse regains health.  Photo: Duckworth Worcestershire Trust

You really can’t see the knuckle as a fine china horse regains health. Photo: Duckworth Worcestershire Trust

Rod explained: “If spare parts are needed, we expect the person to pay for them, but other than that the labor is free. We do however have a donation box if anyone wishes to contribute as we need to rent the premises. Some people have been generous enough to offer up to £20, but the usual is a few pounds. It depends on the job.

“While we strive to do most repairs on site, sometimes they have to be brought home to be completed. Every once in a while there are a lot of feelings attached to an item, so we always try to do the best we can.

Janet Salt with the cuckoo clock that stopped working the day her husband died

Janet Salt with the cuckoo clock that stopped working the day her husband died

Mrs. Janet Salt brought a particularly sentimental item, a cuckoo clock she bought for her husband Dennis as a gift over 40 years ago. Sadly, Dennis passed away on March 18 of this year, and on that day the clock, which had worked perfectly until then, stopped.

Unfortunately, the Repair Cafe watch expert was off duty the day Janet arrived, but the job was saved for next time. After all, if you can fix the world, a cuckoo clock shouldn’t be a problem.

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