The Big Fix 2020 was a national event in which 74 Repair Cafes in the UK planned to participate to collectively smash the record for the number of items fixed in a single repair event. They were all to hold Repair Cafes on the same day – but Storm Dennis, bringing floods and high winds, meant that some had to cancel and some will hold their session on a different date. The aim was to encourage lots of press and media coverage to raise awareness of repair cafes, encourage more to open, increase footfall and promote the repair culture. It was organised by Catherine Causley of Devon County Council, and the record to beat was 268, set by Devon Repair Cafes in 2019.
We’d like to give a big shout out to BBC Radio Solent (103.8FM in Dorset) who interviewed me (Ros) and a visitor, turned volunteer, Jacqui Gisbourne just prior to our January event. A few days before the Big Fix, reporter Laurence brought along a clock that had belonged to his father. He recorded 4 interviews with some of our volunteers Alan (clocks), Andrew (gluing), Steve Fox (Mechanical and sharpening), me Ros (founder and Chairman), and Colby, whose family have recently taken over the Old Ship Inn in Upwey, Weymouth, complete with a mantle clock of local interest. The interviews were broadcast on Friday 14 February. Another reporter subsequentlyrecorded an interview from which ‘soundbytes’ could be broadcast during new bulletins on Saturday 15th.
Wessex FM promoted the Big Fix both in the radio programmes on Saturday and on their website and we were in the Dorset Echo on 2nd February. That’s not all… We worked really hard to promote the event to local Facebook groups we had not used before and delved into Instagram and Twitter posts a little. We are now being followed by Repair Cafes in Sydney Australia and Paris … Well we needed to be sure that our repairers would be fully occupied during our double length event! The day came – and we were ready for it. 34 volunteers of which 19 were repairers and 15 were putting our usual processes in place to make it run smoothly, with no queues.
By 40 minutes after we officially opened at 10:30, over 100 items had come through the door. Our repairers were fully occupied and despite, howling winds and lashing rain, 152 of the 156 items were seen.
We witnessed some amazing repairs – a new foot and leg for a tiny wooden doll, a ‘ping pong’ games console from the 1980’s was adapted for display on a modern TV, a gold photo frame with cracks and chunks missing was fully restored, and a plastic ‘Tetley’ teapot clock with sentimental value was repaired.
I am amazed at how far smoothly it all went. We achieved our aims and got new volunteers, and the possibility of 3 more Repair Cafes opening soon. A little more detail follows in Part 2.