Antrim & Newtownabbey Repair Cafe

Local Gov't • Antrim and Newtownabbey

Bringing loved items back to life while reducing the carbon impact of waste.

  • Fixing an electrical item.
  • Hard at work - a pair of trousers coming back to life.
  • Care and attention required - a bike awaiting its service.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council's story

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council wanted to harness the power of residents to start Repair Cafes in the Borough and prevent people throwing items away, when they break or stop working, by repairing them for further use. Willing volunteers were identified with the help of Antrim Enterprise Agency and representatives from Repair Café Belfast, and the Antrim and Newtownabbey Repair Café group was established. The aim of the group has always been to become self sufficient and sustainable and following a starter grant from Council, they have achieved this.

The first Repair Café events occurred in September 2019 and bought together individuals who didn't have the skills, such as electrical, crafting or woodworking, to fix broken items with volunteer experts to try and prevent the items having to be discarded and replaced with new items. The ethos of a Repair Café has always been about repairing things in a relaxed and informal way and aims to have both environmental and social benefits. The events are enjoyable experiences for both the volunteers and the attendees, rather than a transactional service. Attendees receive a cup of tea and a bun and chat to the fixers as they try to bring new life to their items in need of repair. If successful they will see their possessions in a new light and once again appreciate their value. The type of items repaired can vary from bikes, kettles, chairs and toys. Unfortunately COVID has suspended the running of the Repair Cafes although they were up and running again in 2022 with the local community enjoying the environmental and social benefits of the scheme.

Useful learnings from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

Officers at Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council wanted to establish Repair Cafes in the Borough. Repair Cafes have been widely established in the UK and aim to stop people throwing items away, when they break or stop working, by repairing them for further use. Officers worked with Antrim Enterprise Agency and representatives from Repair Café Belfast, to recruit skilled volunteers from across the Borough to help establish Antrim and Newtownabbey Repair Café group for the Borough. The volunteers attended information evenings facilitated by the Council to initiate the aim of the group becoming self sufficient and sustainable. The first Repair Café events occurred in September 2019 and bought together individuals who didn't have the skills, such as electrical, crafting or woodworking, to fix broken items with volunteer experts to try and prevent the items having to be discarded and replaced with new items.

The ethos of a Repair Café is all about repairing things in a relaxed and informal way and aims to have both environmental and social benefits. Organisers are seeking to create an enjoyable experience for both the volunteers and the attendees, rather than a transactional service. Attendees will be able to connect over a cup of tea and a bun, while the fixers try to bring new life to their items in need of repair. If successful they will see their possessions in a new light and once again appreciate their value. The type of items repaired can vary from bikes, kettles, chairs and toys.

Four repair cafe events had occurred before COVID led to a suspension of the events. At those events over 60 items were brought in for repair and a significant number of these items were fixed by the volunteers, with more and more visitors asking to become experts.

The Repair Cafe has become such a relaxed and informal way to repair items and prevent waste creation and has resulted in an enjoyable experience for both the volunteers and the attendees. The project has resulted in both environmental and social improvements for the local community.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council's metrics

Number of events put on.
Number of people participating.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...

Action Area

Circular Economy

Response to climate crisis

Adaptation

Reach

Area

Organisation

Local Gov't, 250 to 10,000 people

Shared by

Northern Ireland Local Government Association

Updated Feb, 2024

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