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Selfridges hosts repair clinic for broken gadgets
May 7, 2015
Gadget owners can now repair their broken electronics at a drop-in clinic at London’s Selfridges department store.
The Restart Project has taken residency at the iconic Oxford Street store and offers shoppers the opportunity to diagnose and fix smartphones, laptops, appliances, and much more.
Restart Project co-founder Ugo Vallauri said too often appliances were unnecessarily discarded.
He said: “From toasters to mobiles, too many appliances and gadgets break and remain unfixed.
“But they offer a learning opportunity, a way for their owners to learn something about troubleshooting, maintenance and being smarter at the next purchase.”
Every Friday until June 5, as a part of the “Work It” events series, repair coaches from London-based charity The Restart Project will help people in Selfridges fix their broken or malfunctioning electronics and electricals. The event is free, and there is no need for participants to pre-book.
Selfridges Creative Director Linda Hewson explained the rationale behind the events series, saying the time is ripe “for a look at some of the trends that are currently reshaping both the workplace and the retail space.”
With the growth of businesses based on digital fabrication and “maker culture”, there will also be new opportunities for those who tinker and mend electronics. Many of these will occur outside the 9-to-5 workday and bricks and mortar businesses.
The Restart Project is a London-based social enterprise (and registered charity) that encourages and empowers people to use their electronics longer in order to reduce waste. It has to date run 78 community repair events across London since it was founded in 2012.
Repair coaches called “Restarters” have been recruited from among The Restart Project’s dedicated volunteer pool, active in community events called Restart Parties. Additionally, a team member from repair company Lovefone will help shoppers with smashed screens, charging only the cost of parts.
David Mery, a Restarter, said learning to fix gadgets was a transformative experience. He said: “Participants go through a transformation when they realise that many repairs are accessible to them. They lose their fear and begin to feel empowered to fix.”
Social enterprise brings electronics repair to the workplace
January 13, 2014
The Restart Project, a social enterprise aiming to revive electronics repair in order to reduce waste, is launching a number of new workplace services this month.
Building on experience in London hosting over 40 community events, where owners of broken electronics are matched with volunteers with repair skills, the social enterprise is now starting to work with businesses, the public sector and third sector organisations.
Teams of “Restarters” – talented repairers recruited from volunteers at community events – will be available for team-building activities and pop-up repair clinics for larger organisations, as well as independent IT audits for smaller organisations dependent on costly, outsourced IT support.
Participants in a demo event at Friends of the Earth in London called their experience “practical, hands-on, accessible and fun” and “liberating”.
Companies hiring The Restart Project will not only be offering empowering and innovative activities for their employees, they will also be supporting the important work of the social enterprise to help “fix our relationship with electronics” and move beyond a throw-away society.
Recent comments by David MacKay, the energy department’s chief scientific adviser, highlighted electronics repair as a solution to an alarming waste problem in the UK. Electronic waste is the country’s fastest growing waste stream and WRAP research estimates that at least 23% of electronics taken for disposal are either functioning or could be fixed cheaply.
“Sustainable companies already promote waste reduction and recycling of paper and consumables in workplaces. Now the next step is to engage their employees in a broader rethink of how we consume technology and what this means for the future,” says The Restart Project co-founder Ugo Vallauri.
Prospective clients and the press will be invited to a preview event on January 22 at Makerversity, the exciting new makerspace in Somerset House that The Restart Project calls home.
After running as a purely volunteer organisation during its first 18 months, The Restart Project has now received crucial seed funding to build its enterprise arm from Unltd, Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme and a private foundation.
The Restart Project celebrates one year helping Londoners repair electronics
June 21, 2013
Last week, The Restart Project celebrated its first year helping Londoners move beyond the throw-away culture, by fixing their electronics.
“We aim to radically improve our relationship to electronics. We need to fully own our gadgets, like we would our cars or bicycles. Would you throw those away and upgrade the moment you had a problem?” says co-founder Ugo Vallauri.
The Restart Project came to life one year ago with its first gathering in a pub in north London, where volunteers with more knowledge in electronics helped people with broken electronics to fix them. This was the first “Restart Party”, convened by co-founders Janet Gunter and Ugo Vallauri.
Since then, the group has sponsored 27 of these free community events, popping up in libraries, community centres, markets, galleries and pubs in its focus areas of Brixton and greater Camden. Among the most common fixes have been laptops, printers, lamps and other small household electricals.
More than 500 people have brought broken items and learned from personalised repair advice, and approximately 393 kilograms of electronic waste have been prevented.
The Project has had requests from individuals and groups in 23 cities in the UK to replicate the “Restart Party” model, and from 11 countries around the world.
“The Restart Project successfully taps into a Zeitgeist of overlapping concerns, for the environment, for thrift and into a growing desire to resist consumerist excess,” says trustee Tony Roberts, who founded Computer Aid. “I am really excited by the potential to build a global community of fixers through Restart parties to bring about more sustainable gadget use.”
The lifeblood of the group are its keen volunteers, with all kinds of professional backgrounds, ages and origins.
Restarters like David Mery, a former software engineer, get involved, because as he says “The Restart Parties are an occasion for collaborative repairing, where there are no geniuses. The confidence some attendees gain to fix things on their own is the most rewarding part of the experience.”
The Restart Project is a registered charity but describes itself as a “social startup”. Founders Janet Gunter and Ugo Vallauri, who met through a professional network of people using technology in global development, are clear about their desire for the Project be self-sustaining and scale in a way that traditional charities do not.
Gunter and Vallauri have been invited to guest lecture and host repair events at major London educational institutions, including more than one campus of the University of the Arts London, City University, and Goldsmiths. Additionally, Brent Council has invited The Restart Project to conduct workshops on computer and electronics maintenance in its libraries.
All of this has been achieved on a total shoestring. In its first year, The Restart Project received one small grant of £2000 from Project Dirt and Timberland Europe, and small donations from individuals and Patagonia Europe.
In its second year, The Restart Project plans on scaling by helping others to replicate its model, creating a strong online platform to promote electronics repair, and guaranteeing its sustainability. One way towards sustainability will be a corporate “team-building” event, which will spread the spirit of resilience and problem-solving into the private sector.
About Restart Parties
These are fun and free community events, lasting three hours, where volunteers experienced with electronics help others learn to repair and perform maintenance to their broken or slow devices, as well as share tips on how to take back control of what they buy. The focus of the events is on skill-sharing. Attendees with broken electronic equipment take an active part in the repair and have a direct responsibility in the troubleshooting and repair of what they bring, supported by an experienced technician.
About The Restart Project
The Restart Project is a charitable incorporated organisation based in London promoting positive behaviour change by encouraging and empowering people to use their electronics longer. The Restart Project is helping prepare the ground for a future economy of maintenance and repair by reskilling communities, supporting repair entrepreneurs, and helping people of all walks of life to be more resilient.