Fixing Fairwater: The volunteers saving cherished belongings from landfill

Restoring baby blankets, teaching forgotten skills and bringing people together is all in a day’s work at the repair café

VOLUNTEERS in Fairwater spend one Saturday every month fixing the community’s most valued items.

Saving priceless handmade baby blankets from landfill is all in a day’s work for these volunteers.

“Our friend Mahri made [the baby blanket] as a gift for my daughter when she was born,” says organiser Cllr Claudia Boes, on the handmade baby blanket she brought in to save.

5 year old baby blanket
This handmade crochet baby blanket is being restored in Fairwater for use by the next generation.

“A lot of the public think things can’t be fixed at the start, and they are often surprised to find it can be,” says volunteer Sophia Griffiths.

“We’re trying to prevent things going to landfill, really.”

The repair café is a service used and appreciated by many residents, who regularly come to St Peter’s Community Hall to revive their most-loved items.

“It is an invaluable service. I have had quite a few items fixed and I always leave feeling grateful,” says repair café regular, Louise Ash.

The rise of throwaway fast fashion and household goods being made with deliberately short lifespans has been bad for the environment.

The Repair Cafe Wales network wants to reduce waste and pass mending skills on to others. But it also promotes camaraderie within communities.

Volunteer Wendy Crawford said: “Some people don’t know how to do their children’s hem. We can show you! I used to learn by watching my mother sew. It’s like osmosis, isn’t it?”

In August 2021, Fairwater’s repair café began as a mobile operation. However, its popularity meant it quickly grew into a permanent monthly fixture in St Peter’s Hall.

“It brings people together and is a mutually beneficial relationship. Environmentally, it means less things going to landfill but they also get their items repaired,” says Cllr Claudia Boes.

Communities in Wales save an estimated £920 every month as a result of weekly repair cafés like Fairwater’s. In 2019 alone, it is thought repair cafés worldwide stopped around 420,000 kilos of waste reaching landfill.

‘We’re really pleased that people in Fairwater have access to a repair café. It’s great to see more and more popping up along the length and breadth of Wales,” says Friends of the Earth Cymru.

“Repairing what we own, keeping it for as long as we can, and not buying as many new things, reduces waste, uses fewer resources, and leads to fewer climate-damaging emissions.”

Fairwater’s repair café meets at St Peter’s Community Hall & Garden, on the second Saturday of every month, from 11am until 1pm.

There are repair cafés throughout Cardiff open at various dates throughout the month. Find out more about how to get involved here.