Together in London, we’re designing and testing two visions of permanent places for community-powered repair: ‘Fixing Factories’. Thanks to more than £190,000 in funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, the project will work with volunteers and repair businesses on a Camden high street and inside a Brent waste facility.
We’ll turn the Fordist factory on its head and forge new spaces for fixing, learning, curiosity and empowerment. Opportunities for 16-30 year olds, including skills development, training, and paid work – will be central. Our fresh approach, novel locations and community powered design can create new forms of climate action that meet local needs and involve new communities.
We at Restart will be celebrating our tenth year of activity in Camden. We have experience working with communities in different parts of the borough, and we’re keen to target this project at those who can benefit most. We’re new to Brent, but we’ve partnered with West London stars Ready Tech Go and West London Waste Authority, who can help us meet local needs.
Camden’s Fixing Factory
Possible will lead in Camden, securing a storefront space to operate a Fixing Factory focusing on small household appliances and electronics. Devices such as toasters, hand-held electronics, kettles and hoovers are difficult to get fixed – a significant market failure that helps lock low-income households into an expensive cycle of replacement of lower-cost, lower-quality items.
Operating standard opening hours, the Factory will allow residents to:
- Get their broken products fixed on a ‘donate as you feel’ model
- Join repair workshops/1-2-1 learning sessions (including online)
- Learn how waste, fixing and reuse affect the climate crisis and discuss systemic solutions
- Discover funded training opportunities via our partner Mer-IT
- Access community space for networking, volunteering and socialising
The Factory will host local professional repairers working ‘front of house’, bringing the intrigue of fixing into public view. To broaden the Factory’s appeal, attract new people and diversify revenue we will explore offering low-cost community space hire after hours, hosting a community cafe on local concession, opening a retro gaming arcade.
Brent’s Fixing Factory
In partnership with West London Waste Authority (WLWA) and local grassroots group Ready Tech Go (RTG), we’ll create a laptop Fixing Factory inside Abbey Road recycling centre. Local volunteer and professional repairers will repurpose computers for local school children out of adapted shipping containers, putting fixing on show and engaging residents dropping waste. Young people will be invited to learn and volunteer onsite, with training and work experience pathways available again through Mer-IT.
We don’t believe live repair at a mass discard site has been done before – and want to test how effective this contrast is in reducing e-waste and changing behaviour. Besides daily repair, we’ll host public events demonstrating how laptops can have valuable second lives and facilitating deeper learning about solutions to the impacts of e-waste.
To make this a reality, we’re hiring for a total of three roles – one full-time role with Possible (fixed term contract) focusing on Camden, one full-time role with Restart (fixed term contract) helping in both sites and closing soon, and one full-time role with Ready Tech Go (fixed term contract).
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Do you have some ideas that can help us design these Factories? Our approach has been grounded in the needs of communities where we’ll be operating, since we even conceived of this project, and will continue to be. Please let us know in the comments or get in touch directly.
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