2022 Annual Report

Contents

Main activities & achievements for 2022
Objective 1 – Inspire a culture change so people use stuff longer and appreciate it more
Objective 2 – Everyone can participate in a local repair network that extends the lifetimes of products
Objective 3 – Sustainable devices and effective regulation
Plans for 2023
Organisation structure and development (including fundraising)
Financial review

Main activities & achievements for 2022

We had a busy year in 2022, including the 10 year anniversary of our very first Restart Party. We celebrated our achievements with our friends and colleagues, old and new, and looked forward to Restart’s next steps.

  • We launched the Fixing Factory project – two brand new fixing spaces in Brent and in Camden. Thanks to more than £190,000 in funding from The National Lottery Climate Action Fund, the project works with volunteers and repair businesses on a Camden high street and inside a Brent waste facility.
  • We organised Fixfest International 2022 with around 50 sessions in Belgium and online. Over 150 people from at least 23 countries attended in person in Brussels, and many more joined the online programme running alongside.
  • 2022 saw Restart coordinate the sixth International Repair Day with the theme Repair is Everywhere.
  • We made great progress on our London based repair business directory, which allows members of the public to look up reliable repair businesses in their local area, and we relaunched it as LondonRepairs.org .
  • 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’. The aim of the initiative is to reduce the amount of waste from electrical and electronic goods.

Objective 1 – Inspire a culture change so people use stuff longer and appreciate it more

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.

Speaking appearances

We were pleased to be asked to share our work and spread the message of Right to Repair at so many conferences this year including:

  • Electrical Product Safety Conference
  • AMDEA/ City University/ Office of Product Safety and Security. 2050 – Appliances of the Future: The Road to Net Zero
  • East Midlands Fixfest
  • Royal Society of Chemistry. Disposable Attitude: Electronics in the Environment
  • Circular Economy Week London / C40 Cities. Repairing our way to a zero waste society
  • Low Carbon Design Institute
  • Design Council’s Design for Planet Festival
  • Zero Waste Symposium 2022 (San Diego)

Podcast

Our podcast continues to perform strongly. We interviewed a range of guests on a wide variety of topics relating to repair which helped us continue to engage our current audience and reach a new audience. Our most listened to podcast episodes in 2022, were:

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

Education

As part of the launch of the Fixing Factory project, we went into a high school in Brent to deliver a workshop on ‘What’s inside your mobile phone’. Groups of students had the opportunity to take apart a mobile and learn about the critical raw materials used to manufacture it. We have since developed this workshop and delivered it to other audiences.

Impact: We continue to be a leading voice in support of repair. By telling our story about the grassroots initiatives we run and support, we are highlighting the repair options that the public wants but doesn’t know about. And through these stories we’re showing politicians and companies that there is public demand for repair and reuse.

Objective 2 – Everyone can participate in a local repair network that extends the lifetimes of products

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

Community repair

In London we saw increased interest in community repair, with 12 new groups starting up, with and without our direct support. We restarted holding skillshares and Rosie events (skillshares exclusively for those identifying as women and non-binary people), some in-person and others online.

We have continued to support and develop Restarters.net, our platform to connect community repairers, capture repair data and demonstrate the impact of local events. We have begun working on a consultancy basis with three networks to use Restarters.net to support their groups. 7764 event attendees were registered on the platform this year: over 30,000 hours of volunteering to repair 8,400 items, avoiding 23 tonnes of waste and 246 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions.

We upgraded our laptop donation directory, which identifies local reuse projects that refurbish, and reallocate donated laptops. This involved creating a searchable map, the work was paid for by Nominet.

We organised Fixfest International 2022 where members of the repair community from all over the world gathered together to share their ideas and passion. Sessions in Brussels included a keynote from Mathew Lubari from CC4D on repair in a refugee camp (Uganda), sessions on microsoldering, Right to Repair policy from across Europe, community repair around the world, a ‘lonely parts club’, repair and cybersecurity, and a Repair Café on Sunday.

We continued to work with the Community Repair Network (CRN) 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

Fixing Factories

We launched two Fixing Factories which will reduce waste and help people to truly value their stuff.

The Brent site at Abbey Road household reuse and recycling centre, and run with support from West London Waste Authority, fixes laptops which would otherwise end up as electronic waste. Laptops are donated at the site and in drop boxes around West London, and volunteers repair them to give them back to people in the community who need them. There are a number of events called Dr Laptop, for people to receive a diagnostics check and repair advice on their laptops.

The second Fixing Factory is in Queen’s Crescent in Camden, run by partner organisation Possible with input from Restart. This acts as a community repair hub, allowing local residents to get appliances fixed, learn valuable repair skills from our volunteer fixers, and take part in weekly repair workshops.

As part of the Fixing Factory project, 11 young people were trained by Mer-IT on how to build, repair, and upgrade a PC. We’ve also provided volunteer opportunities to young people as well as to corporate volunteers, while skilling them on laptop refurbishment.

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 launched a microsite, LondonRepairs.org, which allows members of the public to look up details of reliable repair businesses in London. 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 mapped eight new boroughs in West London, funded by West London Waste Authority (WLWA). This work added 147 businesses, bringing our total to 317.

Impact: Interest in the Fixing Factories has been staggering. Individuals, community groups and local authorities have approached us with interest in expanding the concept. Media coverage has been extensive, with national broadcast and print coverage, as well as local and specialist media stories. The growth in community repair groups in London has demonstrated the strength of our work in supporting emerging groups. And the development of the Community Repair Network, with a boost from Fixfest has shown the need for the movement supporting infrastructure that we offer.

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 started work to develop a UK-focused campaign to extend the lifetime of electronics. Because of the lack of existing policy opportunities and momentum at UK government level, an overarching campaign with an ambitious ask is needed. This campaign, developed by members of the Community Repair Network, will be launched in 2023 and is focused on keeping tech in use for longer, starting within universities.

International Repair Day was on 15th October with the theme Repair is Everywhere. We asked our network from around the world to submit short video clips of themselves carrying out repairs in unusual places and created a video highlighting that repair really is everywhere. We suggested simple repairs people could try, and created a global map showing repair activities on and around 15th October.

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 of the campaign is growing steadily. The network is made of more than 100 organisations based in over 20 European countries and representing environmental NGOs and repair actors such as community repair groups, social economy actors, spare parts distributors, self-repairers, repair and refurbishing businesses, and any citizen who would like to advocate for their right to repair.

Focuses of the campaign in 2022 included submissions to EU Commission consultations, particularly on upcoming smartphone regulations, analysing the French repair index, reporting the launch of the repair bonus scheme in Austria and producing a report on tough regulations on batteries.

At Fixfest, the campaign organised a day of talks from professional and community repairers, innovative tech start-ups and environmental NGOs about how EU policies can be instrumental in overcoming remaining barriers to repair. The campaign also arranged a protest on a busy shopping high street to raise the profile of the right to repair movement.

 

Data and research

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

We have continued to work with members of the Open Repair Alliance who have shared their data on items repaired, and we focused on increasing the quality of the data collected by community repair initiatives.

We have released our latest aggregate dataset which now contains over 62,000 repair attempts logged at community repair events around the world. This is based on the Open Repair Data Standard which we developed with partners and lead on maintaining. We have repairs logged by 433 groups around the world in 23 countries on 6 continents. This data helps us research trends and patterns in our repair activity, which can help us make the case for a universal right to repair.

For example, in 2022 we ran ‘DustUp’, a people-powered investigation into why vacuum cleaners break. We looked at over 3000 records of repair attempts to learn more about the common reasons vacuums break down. This work fed into a European Commission consultation on repairability of vacuum cleaners, showing evidence of the need for extensive access to spare parts for vacuum cleaners.

Impact: Securing effective regulation to support repair and reuse remains a challenge. We have shaped important and world leading EU policies to support repair, and shared important learnings from the EU and other countries with our networks. By the end of 2022, as part of our work steering the European Right to Repair Campaign, we contributed to achieving new legislation on the repairability of smartphones and tablets, as well as user-replaceability of batteries in future models of consumer electronics. In both cases, data from community repair initiatives as analysed by Restart was used to make the case for more repairable, long-lasting products. In the UK we are working with national partners and the Community Repair Network to call for more government action on reuse and repair, and explore opportunities to build an impactful campaign.

Plans for 2023

We have exciting plans for 2023. Among the projects we are working on are:

  • Expanding and scaling-up Fixing Factories, developing a business model that works.
  • Promoting our Repair Directory, signposting users to reliable repair businesses in more areas of London.
  • Lead on a UK focused 10 year tech campaign to reduce e-waste in universities and engage students in repair and reuse.
  • Continue to develop our platform for repairers, Restarters.net, and explore onboarding more networks of repair groups
  • Develop our work with partners on repair data analysis, working with existing volunteers and citizen scientists to 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

Organisational structure and development (including fundraising)

Organisational Structure

Day to day management of the charity was overseen by two co-directors, one focused on UK Strategy & Operations and one focused on International Strategy. They led a core staff team of Tech lead, Online Community lead, Operations lead, London Network Coordinator, Campaigner, Communications producer and Fixing Factory Project Coordinator. We also worked with freelance consultants to deliver projects.

The Restart Project continued to be a member of Good Electronics and the European Environmental Bureau.

Risk Management

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. The staff team and experienced volunteers regularly review and improve the safety guidelines and the model risk assessment for running events.

Funding

We received funding from Interreg North West Europe for the Sharepair project. This is a project to help build a ‘digital support infrastructure for citizens in the repair economy’. It runs until mid-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 from the National Lottery Climate Action Fund for our Fixing Factories in Brent and Camden. Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust funds our work to campaign for the Right to Repair and repair-friendly policy in the UK. We received funding from a Innovate UK grant we submitted with Tech Take Back for a feasibility study on streamlining repairability of used products donated to their project in Brighton. The Funding Network supports our work with the London community.

Restart also received funding from two sponsorship agreements and took part in The Big Give’s Green Match fund. We were the recipients of PayPal Giving Fund’s Small Charities Campaign.

Additional unrestricted funds came from our trading activities including consultancy work and delivering events and talks, as well as from donations from the general public.

Financial review

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):

  1. 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
  2. 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 2022, The Restart Project’s income increased significantly to a gross income of £619,368 (2021: £287,822). This is due to an increase in successful grant applications, alongside an increase in consultancy work and delivering more events. The majority of this income came from Restricted Grants totalling £390,932 (2021: £157,989) including Sharepair EU Interreg, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Innovate UK, The Funding Network and National Lottery Community Fund. We received £44,859 income from our trading activities. This included £20,800 from delivering events and talks, which is a significant increase from 2021 due to a greater interest in the Right to Repair and restarting holding events after covid. We also received contributions towards the EU Right to Repair campaign which are restricted for its use.

Our total expenditure also increased to £572,842 (2021: £405,606). This is in part due to the expansion of the staff team which is now 9 people. As in previous years, salaries and staff costs are the largest outgoing.

We ended 2022 with £167,560 cash reserves which are held in our savings account and our current bank account.

All photos: The Restart Project / Mark A Phillips