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A Fixing Factory Farewell

If you’ve been following any of our communications over the last 18 months (or those of our project partner Possible) you’ll know that we’ve been testing permanent repair in two Fixing Factories with support from the The National Lottery Community Fund. 

One of these, the Brent Fixing Factory has been based in a Reuse and Recycling centre. With support from West London Waste Authority, we refurbished and rehomed laptops which were destined to become e-waste. In the time it’s been open, we’ve worked with a fantastic volunteer team, offered work experience to local young people and donated a huge 206 laptops to people in need. And we ran  10 popular Dr.Laptop community repair sessions, fixing an additional 85 devices.

But as this first phase of the project draws to a close and we plan for future Fixing Factory scaling up, we have made the decision to  focus our efforts on more public facing, accessible initiatives. At both Fixing Factory sites, we quickly saw the scale of public appetite for getting support to fix their things and seeing repair happening. We’ve seen huge public, institutional and public interest in having fixing spaces on our highstreets. 

We know there’s still a need for initiatives to give laptops a second life, and the great news is there are loads of other fantastic organisations in London and beyond who you can still donate your devices to, find them on The Restart Project’s map of computer reuse projects

As the Brent Fixing Factory pilot at Abbey Road Reuse and Recycling centre is coming to an end, we have learnt so much from this site and are so proud of all we’ve achieved in such a short amount of time.  

A selection of our highlights…

Reducing e-waste 

We have saved 206 laptops from entering the e-waste stream by refurbishing them and repaired 85 devices at our community repair sessions. This equates to a whopping 585 kg in weight and up to 44,371kg prevented carbon emissions which is the same amount of emissions as driving around the world just over 9 times-  369,758 km to be exact! 

Supporting people and organisations

These devices have been donated to families, individuals and charities in Brent and neighbouring boroughs in order to address the digital divide.  By giving them access to a laptop,  we have empowered them to take courses online, apply for jobs, complete their school work and provide a way for them to stay in touch with loved ones. 

Like C who is socially isolated and has a fear of leaving her property. She didn’t finish high school and would like to continue her education and eventually start working. She doesn’t have the confidence to go into college yet so with this laptop she will be able to study from her own home and speak to her friends and family. Or S, a Ukrainian refugee who needed a laptop to join in with his school classes and keep in touch with classmates. 

Free community repair sessions 

We hosted 10 popular laptop focused community repair sessions in partnership with libraries across Brent, helping 155 participants with free repair support and advice to fix their devices!

All smiles! Dr.Laptop volunteers at our final event in June 2023
‘My laptop was very slow and old, everybody told me to get a new one. I hate waste and can’t see why I should get rid of a lovely laptop. When I went to Dr laptop I was told that there was no need for a new laptop and it just needed a software clean. I was also shown how to use it more efficiently, it was a great experience!’ Carmela

Training young people 

We have been supported by an incredible 110 volunteers who contributed a huge 1270 hours of time – this equals 169 working days! We hosted  22 young people, referred to us by youth employment organisations and colleges, to complete their work experience with us as part of their employment journeys. 

Here’s what Akshay had to say about his work experience..

‘I decided to do my work experience with Fixing Factory because I needed to gain IT experience to apply for jobs.I found the Fixing Factory very helpful as I’ve learnt a lot and it has made me think about repairing laptops more instead of throwing them away.’

Developing a replicable method to lengthen the life of laptops 

We have developed a replicable method for extending the life of a laptop, which is currently being used at the Camden site.

Why can’t the Brent Fixing Factory stay open?

After reading about the impact we’ve had, you might be wondering why we’ve decided to close the Brent Fixing Factory… 

Working on site in a shipping container at a recycling centre, we’ve learnt so much, helped others learn, met wonderful people and not least, had an impact on e-waste and carbon emissions. 

It’s important work, but we quickly saw that people want to see repair happening in visible, publicly accessible spaces. By placing future Fixing Factories in high streets and other highly visible spaces, we could raise more awareness and do more to change how people think about repair. We offered laptop fixing sessions in the community that were hugely popular, but had limited engagement at the sessions hosted in the Fixing Factory itself because of its location.

Our training and work experience initiatives in Brent were always in demand, and we’ve seen that by helping people to keep their electricals going and teaching them how to repair, we can fix more things and keep items in circulation. This helped us realise we could have more impact by building on our experience of helping people to learn through taking part in fixing. Our future development of Fixing Factories will build on our experience at Brent helping people to learn to fix, we’ll just be in more visible spaces.

So, what’s next for us? 

West London Waste Authority & The Restart Project will continue to work together on projects such as the waste composition analysis which revealed out of 599 products that members of the public brought to be recycled 36.2% of them had the potential to be immediately reused, while an additional 57 (9.5%) required only minor repairs. 

We’ll also be using the shipping container space at Abbey Road Reuse and Recycling Centre to host our upcoming laptop repair course for young people.

The Camden Fixing Factory is still open. As this site matures we are exploring  new offers which focus on skills development through our innovative Repair Clubs and the creation of bite sized workshops focusing on the repair of a range of small household electronic items such as toasters and hoovers. You can stay in the loop with what’s going on by subscribing to our newsletter or visiting

Partnerships and thanks 

The Fixing Factories would not have been possible without funding from The National Lottery Community Fund.

Thank you to West London Waste Authority for hosting and partnering on the first ever fixing factory, and providing us with materials for this project. Brent Council libraries for hosting Dr.Laptop sessions. To all of the volunteers who have given their time and helped us to shape the project and to everyone else who has supported us on this journey.

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