Repair Cafe encourages young adults to adopt self skills

Sylvia Davies, one of the volunteers at Repair cafe, is responsible for repairing textiles.

The millennial generation is indifferent of repairing old items, instead, they are captivated by buying new products. What are the challenges faced by them to recall age-old habits of repairing?

Chuka, Chuka, Chuka… with a series of neat sounds, Sylvia Davies is using her old-fashioned sewing machine to stitch a split on a canvas bag. She stared at the needle tip without noticing that her glasses had slid down the bridge of her nose.

It has been one year since Davies first attended the Repair Cafe activity, which is an organization founded in 2017 to help local residents of the community to repair things for free. 

Young volunteers take part in Repair cafe to be in charge of registering.

Davies said that she got the sense of repairing things from her mother and it was her mother’s tradition to help neighbours repair clothes. “This sewing machine was left by my mother when she had passed away”, says Davies as she paused to recollect memories. 

She began to work with a towel that needed to be repaired when she was talking. Davies said that as fast fashion arrived, making clothes became cheaper as well as buying clothes. People lost their skills to make and repair items by themselves. Especially for the young generation, where they don’t realize the time invested to make something and the true value attached to that item.

After filling a table to explain the condition of things need to be repaired, Paulos Thurlbeck was led by a volunteer. He sat at a table where a paper written with the word “Textile” had been put to give an indication to visitors. “ It is hard to find a place to fix things now” says Thurlbeck, the owner of the bag. He said that as for the young, it is a real challenge because there are less and less repair shops. If it is possible, repair cafe should be have cooperation with local schools.

After filling out forms and writing down things that need to be repaired, visitors have waiting spaces until the job is finished.

Gareth, one of the organisers of the Repair cafe said that there are over 1,800 repair cafes around the world, however, because of the influence of the media and advertisement, people tend to buy new things at the current day and age. He then whips out his mobile phone to show its condition. It is an iPhone six, and the corner of the screen had a crack that seems like a spider web. Despite the crack the phone was still functioning and usable.

Repair Cafe is a place for the younger generation to promote a repairing culture, reminding people to not toss out damaged goods immediately. They are delighted to see more young people who can join as volunteers or people who bring things to repair.