Networking for resilience
Devices that are sustainable and effective regulation
Organisational structure and development (including fundraising)
Plans for the Future
Main Activities & Achievements for 2019
The Restart Project had a very successful 2019, thanks to our team of staff and volunteers. We helped launch the European Right to Repair campaign, and worked with German partners who put on the second global Fixfest.
We worked to ensure that The Manchester Declaration continued to gain endorsements and visibility, and worked to grant money to members of our UK network so they could expand their reach. We began to analyse our repair data together with our community and partners in the Open Data Repair Alliance for the first time.We also held a summer school for asylum-seeking youth, and created new educational resources on critical raw materials.
Change in perception and behaviour
Increasing our media presence
There was a lot of media interest, particularly around the Right to Repair campaign and the ecodesign vote in Brussels at the start of the year.
Radio and TV highlights included:
- BBC Breakfast for a 5-minute segment
- The One Show filming at one of our Restart Parties
Features and mentions in print and digital included articles in the Financial Times, Sunday Times, Positive News internationally, coverage in Al Jazeera and Italian daily La Repubblica.
Radio show & podcast
Our podcast continues to perform strongly and expand our reach. Episodes are now available on our website, Spotify, iTunes or you can listen to one a month on London’s Resonance FM. We carried out our first survey to find out more about what our listeners thought. The accessible tone and breadth of topics were appreciated, and 5% had started volunteering as a result of listening.
Subjects in 2019 included community infrastructure with Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN), an interview with Adam Minter discussing his book Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale, exploring waste in space, and the second lives of computers.
We delivered a 10-session summer school in Croydon to unaccompanied and refugee youth, by invitation from Croydon Council. The sessions were delivered by staff and volunteers to 19 young people aged between 16-19yrs. The sessions covered learning laptop maintenance, familiarity with relevant software and how to find information and opportunities to learn online and offline. At the end of the course participants were donated the laptop they learned to maintain during the course.
As part of our work on the REFER project (Raw Engagement for Electronics Repair), funded by KIC Raw Materials, we have created a set of resources called Materials Matter about the critical raw materials inside mobile phones. We have offered printed copies of these resources to community repair groups. We also run a hands-on activity with members of the public working alongside our volunteers to take apart a mobile phone and explore the materials inside.
This activity has proved particularly popular with children at our events; we attended the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, which is a celebration of STEM aimed at young people.
People can access stronger local repair networks
In London, we continued to run regular Restart Parties, community events where participants bring along their broken electrical items and repair them collaboratively with our teams of volunteers known as ‘Restarters’.
We received a top-up grant from Nesta supporting us to increase the impact of our work. Part of this grant was sub-granted to groups active in England to help them support new groups. At the start of the year, we completed a tour around the northeast of England visiting potential groups at different stages of development offering support and helping to run Restart Parties and workshops.
We have continued to grow our online community, developing features for Restarters.net, our platform for repair volunteers and activists. In 2019, around 760 members signed up to share their stories, ask questions and contribute to best practice.
In 2019, members of our extended network held 545 events in the UK and internationally attended by 6,002 participants, preventing 7,049 kg of waste with 12,798 hours volunteered.
A gathering of repairers and tinkerers, activists, policy-makers, thinkers and companies from all over the world. Following previous global and UK events, the second global Fixfest was held in Berlin in September. We contributed by supporting local organisers, running sessions and funding the participation for community repair volunteers from the UK, Canada, Honk Kong, India and South Africa. It was a massive success with a free programme of thought-provoking keynote speakers, panel discussions, workshops and “fringe” events (the Climate Strike march and a repair data dive), and space for networking and exchanging ideas.
International Repair Day
The third International Repair Day was the biggest ever, with 260+ events on the day, and over 300 during the weekend. With events on six continents, we were impressed with the sheer dimension of the day. The event has more than doubled in size every year since we started. The theme was “Repair for Future” to make the link with a growing movement to take immediate climate action.
Commercial Repair Business mapping
We are continuing to build and strengthen our relationships with businesses in London, as they are an integral part of our community and a vital part of our vision for a future in which repair is thriving.
Repair businesses’ information on our Repair Directory was refreshed in the 11 boroughs already covered, and updated to include businesses in Lambeth where we are now headquartered. This web-app allows members of the public to look up details of reliable repair businesses in their local area.
International Repair Day on 19th October was a big success with over 300 community events marking the day around the world. Our event in Brixton focused on bringing businesses and community repairers together.
We won a contract from London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) to help them review their roadmap to the circular economy in the electrical sector in the Greater London area. This project allowed us to research and strengthen relationships with relevant repair and waste prevention actors across Europe. The final deliverable was an extensive report for LWARB extensive report for LWARB.
Devices that are sustainable and effective regulation
Restart’s work in influencing policy-makers and manufacturers of electronics aims to raise the profile of the issues around product lifetime and repairability. We aim to take advantage of opportunities for influence at local level (Greater London Authority), as well as at national and European level.
We’ve become a respected partner in resource policy in both London (with invites and collaboration from Green Alliance) and Brussels.
European Right to Repair
Restart’s work in influencing policy-makers at EU and UK level aims to raise the profile of issues around product lifetime and repairability. We use our work on repair data to provide evidence in support of our campaigning work.
We are one of the founding members of the European Right to Repair campaign launched in September 2019. The goals of the campaign are
- products that are designed to be repairable,
- everyone has access to spare parts and repair manuals, and
- consumers are informed about product repairability.
Restart sits on the steering committee and employs a Campaigner who is based in Brussels. We have participated in designing and implementing the website, social media and campaign activities. And we lead on expanding the coalition throughout Europe.
The Right to Repair campaign won the Good Lobby Award 2019 – an annual celebration of projects, initiatives and campaigns led by citizens committed to lobbying for change.
UK Political Endorsements
At Fixfest UK 2018, we co-drafted the Manchester Declaration calling on policymakers, product designers and manufacturers to make repair more accessible and affordable. This has now been endorsed by nearly 50 community repair groups, and ally groups including Greenpeace UK, Friends of the Earth, UK Men’s Sheds Association, Transition Town and New Economics Foundation. The network also secured endorsement from 8 political figures.
Collecting data to support advocacy
We began working on the second version of the Open Repair Data Standard (ORDS) with Open Repair Alliance partners and have successfully engaged with several partners on this. Alongside this, we have also worked on processing event repair data recorded on spreadsheets, meaning we will be able to upload a substantial amount of historical data.
We held our first data dive event on Open Data Day (2nd March) looking into the repair data collected at community repair events and have devised a microvolunteering task looking to get more people involved in improving the quality of our data. We have built a tool, called FaultCat (Fault Categorisation), to gather opinions about the types of faults that have been recorded in our online platform. We are planning to use this tool as a way to analyse our data and improve data quality as well as volunteer engagement.
We participated in several events over the course of the year, reaching thousands of people and expanding the visibility of our work:
- A panel at an event hosted by the Royal Society of Chemistry at the Royal Institution as part of their celebration of the year of the periodic table highlighting how elements are being lost to landfill or hoarded in old tech devices. Our restarters delivered a hands-on activity after the panel discussion. The event was published on Ri’s YouTube channel (660,000 subscribers).
- We were invited to have a stand at the Science Fair at MozFest with two of our volunteers. MozFest is an event dedicated to creating a better, healthier internet and the Science Fair celebrated 10 years of activism, community, and collaboration. Restarters talked about our work on data and demonstrated a micro task people could volunteer to help with.
- We spoke at CLAIRE Wales conference (Collaborating Local Authorities in Resource Efficiency) in Swansea where we shared Restart’s experiences working with Local Authorities in London.
Organisational structure and development (including fundraising)
Day to day management of the charity was overseen by the two co-founders, working full-time and leading a core staff team: Tech & Data lead, Online Community lead, Operations lead, London Network lead and Communications Assistant. We also worked with a growing network of freelance consultants to deliver projects.
The Restart Project continued to be a member of the Small Charities Coalition and Good Electronics.
The Trustees considered the major risks to the organisation in regular board meetings, in light of updates from the core staff team. The full risk register is considered every six months at trustee meetings to re-evaluate if the risks have increased or decreased. These included governance risks, financial risks, staffing risks, organisational risks and external risks.
All activities run by the Restart Project were covered by its public liability insurance. Staff team and experienced volunteers regularly reviewed and improved the safety guidelines and the model risk assessment for running events.
The main source of funding for the organisation in 2019 continued to be the Shuttleworth Foundation. The Shuttleworth Foundation changed the way it manages grants, and in addition to planned restricted funding, it also transferred during the year a portion of additional unrestricted funds for 2020.
We continued to receive funds from Nesta / DCMI towards our community development work and successfully applied for a top-up fund to enhance the impact of this work. We received the next installment of our grant from KIC Raw Materials towards our educational work on critical raw materials. Additional funding came from a restricted grant from Esmee Fairbairn to improve our communication flow with our supporters.
Our unrestricted funds came from Esmee Fairbairn and a section of the Shuttleworth Foundation grant to cover core costs.
We continued to attract new volunteers as well as retaining a dedicated team of experienced Restarters and Party hosts. We value and appreciate the commitment, engagement and enthusiasm of our volunteering community, without which the organisation wouldn’t exist.
Plans for the Future
Since March 2020, our activities have been deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our community Restart Parties have halted in London, as well as in most places where our community is active. The team switched to working almost exclusively from home, but our activities have continued, both in terms of our support to our community, our engagement with the public, and our campaigning efforts. Throughout 2020 we plan to consolidate much of what we started in 2019, including:
- continue to become a respected partner and spokesperson on repair and resource policy issues in the UK and internationally;
- strengthen the European Right to Repair campaign, bringing the voice and experience of grassroots to Brussels and to member states to pressure for better product standards;
- continue to improve our podcast and radio show both in terms of reach and content;
- continue to develop our open data standard for community repairs together with co-founding groups of the Open Repair Alliance;
- further improve our suite of software supporting community groups towards more of a “platform strategy”, to allow for greater customisation and online participation of volunteers;
- improve the quality of the data we collect, working with volunteers to do so, and also helping groups an opportunity to use and learn from volunteer engagement data;
- cooperate with European partners on the development of digital tools in support of community repair initiatives, as one of the main partners of an EU Interreg project due to begin in the first quarter of the year.
The largest portion of this income came from Restricted Grants totalling £359,125 (2018: £298,066). The largest grants were from Shuttleworth Foundation towards organisational development, Nesta / DCMI towards community development and KIC Raw Materials towards educational work.
We also received £31,377 income from our trading activities, including £23,967 from consultancy, which is an increase on 2018.
Our total expenditure was £405,089 (2018: 284,900). Our largest outgoing was salaries and staff costs.
We ended 2019 with £379,017 cash reserves, including £178,489 of funding for 2020 and 2021 from the Shuttleworth Foundation. Reserves are held in our savings account and our current bank accounts.