2021 Annual Report


Main activities & achievements for 2021
Objective 1 – Change in perception and behaviour
Objective 2 – Networking for resilience
Objective 3 – Sustainable devices and effective regulation
Funding and finances
Plans for the future

Main activities & achievements for 2021

Although there was more stability with the Covid situation, there was still a huge impact on our work and we would like to thank all our volunteers for their fantastic support over the year.

This year, we revisited our strategy working with trustees, volunteers and many in our community. Our long term vision of seeing our relationship with electronics fixed – with communities and planet at the centre has not changed. But we took the opportunity to check our outcomes and activities were still working towards this vision.

Covid-19 put a stop to all in-person community activity. Towards the end of the year, groups started running Restart Parties in person again both in the UK and abroad. These are community events where participants bring along their broken electrical items and repair them collaboratively with our teams of volunteers known as ‘Restarters’. We encouraged all groups to be covid-cautious.

As the pandemic forced more of our daily lives online, it brought the digital divide into sharp focus. People without access to devices were left even further behind. So in January, we launched our ‘laptops for lockdown’ campaign. We ran a laptop donation scheme and listed all projects accepting donations that they upgraded and passed onto members of the community. We also worked with projects in London, our volunteers working on the devices that required a bit more attention.

We have continued our work as a partner of “Sharepair”, an EU-funded project to help build a “digital support infrastructure for citizens in the repair economy”. It runs until Spring 2023. The aim of the initiative is to reduce the amount of waste from electrical and electronic goods. A significant part of the project revolves around the development of digital tools for community repair networks, and Restart plays an important role within the project, with activities and deliverables across all our strategic objectives.

We were also successful in our funding bids to National Lottery Community Fund and Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust for work in 2022. We also secured our first sponsorship agreement with e-Spares Ltd who supply spare parts.

Objective 1 – Change in perception and behaviour

We want to encourage more people to start thinking about the entire lifecycle of their electrical devices, from resource extraction to disposal and to see this awareness reflected in their behaviour and decision-making.

Media appearances

Restart was invited to comment and appear in the media whenever Right to Repair was mentioned, meaning we were able to raise awareness of the issues and promote our message widely.

  • Appearing on BBC radio across the country talking about the success of the BBC’s “Make a Difference” campaign about donating old laptops.
  • BBC Radio4 commissioned a new series called Dare to Repair on repairability and the right to repair that not only featured us but also many in our network.
  • In response to the government’s announcement on the Right to Repair, Restart appeared on BBC1’s Rip Off Britain and ITV’s Tonight.
  • We were also in pieces in The Observer, Bloomberg News, the Financial Times and PC Pro magazine providing reaction to Apple’s announcement that they would be making some parts, tools and manuals available.


Our podcast continues to go from strength to strength with many varied and interesting guests and interviews. The impact and reach of our podcast is growing, increasing our influence. We surveyed our listeners and received responses from across the globe. People found the podcast from a range of sources including our social media and newsletter, guests’ social media and recommendations from a friend. People really enjoy the range and variety of topics covered:

– “Variety of subjects on sustainability and repair is years beyond other outlets
– “It’s informative and relatable without being too overwhelming

The podcast can be heard on our website, Spotify, iTunes or you can listen live on London’s Resonance FM.

Restart logo with text saying 2021 Podcast Listener Survey Results


We launched our interactive online activity looking at the critical raw materials inside a smartphone. This explored the full lifecycle of a mobile phone from mining the minerals and metals to make it to what happens when people get rid of it. We developed this website as part of the Replay project.

We took part in a Tate Late evening event at the Tate Modern which focused on the climate crisis. Our session involved demonstrating taking apart a mobile phone and explaining the Critical Raw Materials used inside.

Objective 2 – Networking for resilience

The Restart Project is working towards growing repair networks in the UK and internationally, including community repair groups, repair SMEs and companies, to promote repair best practice and to forge links between them.

Community repair

Sadly we could not run our regular Restart Parties for much of the year. Towards the end of the year, some groups started running online Restart Parties with members of the public booking slots for their fixes. These have been very successful with all the slots fully booked and members enjoying helping. These online events offer the opportunity to attempt fixes that would not be possible in-person; at one event, Restarters helped someone connect their printer to their home wifi.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Restart supported community groups who collect donated laptops and other tech and then redistribute it to people in need in their local communities. We maintain a list of computer reuse projects across the UK on our website.

We also support community groups in London, collecting laptops with more complicated repairs or upgrades and passing them to our volunteers to work on.

We were one of the founding members of the Community Repair Network (CRN), a decentralised network of community repair groups in the UK. The aim of this network is to strengthen and support grassroots repair in the UK.

Close up of hands holding the ends of a multimeter and a disassembled radio circuit board

Repair businesses

We continued 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.

We have continued to work on our Repair Directory, a web-based app allowing members of the public to look up details of reliable repair businesses in their local area. The businesses in the directory must be reliable and we have a set of criteria: have positive online reviews; provide a physical address; and give a warranty on their repairs.

We have expanded the Repair Directory, working with the City of London to map repair businesses in the area. We have also worked with Repair Cafe Wales to deliver a Repair Directory for the Welsh counties.

Objective 3 – Sustainable devices and effective regulation

Restart’s work on influencing policy-makers at UK and EU 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.

UK campaigning

We launched a petition calling on the UK government to give everyone a real right to repair. This is asking for three things: allowing spare parts and repair manuals to be available to everyone not just professionals; committing to include smartphones, tablets and laptops in the government’s measures; lowering the cost of repairs by reducing VAT on repair.

We commissioned a YouGov poll in Great Britain which showed an overwhelming majority (81%) supported an extension of the right to repair for electronics. Our poll also showed widespread support for the right to repair to be extended to community repair groups (like repair cafés) and consumers. 78% of respondents who would support an expansion of the right to repair to more products say consumers and community repair groups should have the same or more rights than repair shops.

Donut chart with 81% support for expanding Right to Repair

International Repair Day was on Saturday 16th October. The theme for this year was repair lowers carbon emissions. Restart celebrated with a number of events including hosting a webinar with Professor John Barrett on exploring the impact of consumption emissions, a Restart Party for UCL students and our social for volunteers on the day itself. And repair events were held worldwide including in Africa, Asia, Australia, South America and North America.

EU campaign

The Restart Project sits on the steering committee of the Right To Repair campaign whose goals are:

i) products that are designed to be repairable,
ii) everyone has access to spare parts and repair manuals, and
iii) consumers are informed about product repairability.

Membership to the campaign is growing steadily, with over 60 member organisations across more than 20 countries. The network of the Right to Repair campaign is made of organisations based in several European countries and representing civil society organisations, repair businesses, community repair initiatives and public institutions.

Graphic of front and back of a smartphone, text reading "10 Year Smartphone"

Disguised as a “fake product launch”, the campaign highlighted what would be needed for phones to last at least 10 years. As part of the campaign, we wrote a letter to the European Commission supported by leading thinkers and activists in repair alongside members of the public. The letter was co-signed by 100 organisations and more than 7000 individuals, and discussed with the Environment Commissioner during a public event.

In May, the campaign organised a protest in front of the European Commission in Brussels to highlight the commission’s lack of action on making printers more repairable. The protest took place in front of a pile of over 30 broken printers Chloe arranged to be there. This action was attended by 4 Green MEPs and some press.


We continue to collect data on barriers to repair with repair activists from around the world. We use this evidence to push for longer-lasting products and our Right to Repair in future policy.

In 2021, we worked on a Citizen Science project with the support of ACTION (Participatory science toolkit against pollution) which is co-funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 framework. ACTION aims to make citizen science more participatory, inclusive and citizen-led.

As part of this work, we designed and hosted a number of online microvolunteering tasks. The idea of these tasks was to engage our volunteer community to help ensure the accuracy of the collected data, and to analyse it to provide insights we can then links to the bigger picture of our work on policy and campaigning.

In 2021, we also updated our data on measuring the environmental impact of products with support from volunteers. This is the data we use to calculate the environmental impact of repairs at community repair events. The key finding from this work is that for many new products, including laptops, blenders and smartphones, most of the impact has already occurred before we open the packaging.

We have continued to work with members of the Open Repair Alliance who have shared their data on items repaired. By defining a standard way of structuring data, this allows us to combine data collected from community repair events around the world. With this, we can look for global and local trends and patterns in our repair activity, which can help us make the case for a universal right to repair. In December we led on releasing an updated version of the Open Repair Data Standard, aimed at increasing the quality of the data collected by community repair initiatives.

Funding and finances


We received funding from Interreg North West Europe for the Sharepair project. This is a new project to help build a “digital support infrastructure for citizens in the repair economy”. It runs through 2023 and supports our work with Open Repair Alliance, repair data collection, development of Restarters.net, expanding our directory of repair businesses and Fixfest.

We received funding for our work on a citizen science project with the support of ACTION (Participatory science toolkit against pollution) which is co-funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 framework. ACTION aims to make citizen science more participatory, inclusive and citizen-led.

We also received a small grant from Nominet and donations directly from members of the public towards our work in reuse of laptops and smartphones, supporting organisations to receive and upgrade donations for use in the local community.

Much of our unrestricted funds came from our consultancy work on expanding the repair directory. We also secured our first sponsorship.

A pie chart titled "Income 2021 by type" showing income by source. Donations make up 4.9%, Restricted Grants make up 61.5%, Trading Income makes up 14.8%, and Sponsorship makes up 18.7%.

Financial reserves

The intention of the reserve policy is to provide contingency for the following two “worst case scenarios” (which are not major concerns in the current circumstances):

For whatever reason the organisation needs to wind up and we need to have enough unrestricted cash in order to honour commitments, particularly to staff and to other partners; and
The organisation is continuing to function effectively and has a positive future but has to overcome a temporary gap in funding or deal with an unexpected major cost in order to safeguard its future.

In relation to cash flow we therefore need to keep sufficient cash available to pay bills and salaries in the event of late or non-payment of invoices.

Further financial review details

In 2021, The Restart Project’s income decreased with a gross income of £287,822 (2020: £488,752).

The majority of this income came from Restricted Grants totalling £157,989 (2020: £203,205) including Sharepair EU Interreg towards our data work and community development and ACTION towards data work.

We received £36,388 income from our trading activities, including £33,050 from our consultancy work, which is an increase on 2020.

We also received contributions towards the EU Right to Repair campaign.

Our total expenditure was £405,606 (2020: £389,767) with salaries and staff costs the largest outgoing.

We ended 2021 with £128,990 cash reserves which are held in our savings account and our current bank account.

Plans for the future

We expect a busy 2022. While in-person community repair events are unlikely to resume at least until the summer, we will continue to support our community and move forward with other parts of our work. Among the projects we are working on are:

  • Fixing Factories, a project funded thanks to the players of the National Lottery. We will be working with partners to operate fixing spaces in Camden high street and Brent Waste Facility
  • Expand our Repair Directory, signposting users to reliable repair businesses in more areas of London
  • Lead on a UK focused campaign to put pressure on the UK government to include the real Right to Repair
  • Continue to develop our platform for repairers, Restarters.net, and explore onboarding more networks of repair groups
  • Increase our focus on data analysis, working with existing volunteers and citizen scientists to create ongoing engagement exploring repair data to gain insights on barriers to repair to be used to shape future policies at UK and European level
  • Continue to help steer the development of the European Right to Repair campaign
All photos: The Restart Project / Mark A Phillips