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Restart Podcast Ep. 91: Voices of Fixfest UK 2023

Fixfest UK 2023 attendees

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On 30th September, over 100 fixers, organisers, researchers, and more from around the UK came together for Fixfest UK 2023! This year’s edition was held in Cardiff and co-organised with our friends at Repair Cafe Wales.

We spent the day sharing our experiences and expertise on how to build the movement and bring repair to the fore both locally and nationally. It was an incredibly supportive atmosphere, including a session on how to take care of yourself as a repair facilitator.

In this episode, we wanted to share a taste of the conversations going on on the day. We spoke to 8 Fixfest attendees about how they’ve been uplifting repair in their communities, what they hope for the future, and how we can get repair on the government’s agenda.

You’ll hear a host of different voices including: Clare Seek from Repair Cafe Portsmouth, and Nicole Barton from Cambridge Carbon Footprint from England; Elaine Brown from Edinburgh Remakery, and Jane Dixon from Share & Repair Network from Scotland; Phoebe Brown from Repair Cafe Wales, and Hayley Roberts from RE:MAKE Newport from Wales; and Chris McCartney from Repair Café Belfast, and Caroline McGuiness-Brooks from Repair Café Foyle in Northern Ireland. 

Repair for Everyone

On October 21st, we’re marking the seventh International Repair Day. The theme for 2023 is ‘Repair for Everyone’, we wanted to know what this phrase meant to UK organisers. It’s clear that accessibility is key to the answer to this question. We need repair to be affordable and abundant. This includes making an effort to start repair cafés in more hard to reach areas, and also making sure that we considering the global community in this movement.

“They can come in, watch repair, get the confidence to do it and then make that a part of their lifestyle. So repair cafes are the future, as far as I’m concerned.”

Hopes for the future

We hear all about how the different organisations and initiatives are championing repair in their local areas but we also want to know what they hope will happen in the next five years. It turns out, our community has big aspirations. Many say that their main goal is simply to do even more of what they’re already doing – bringing repair to as many people as possible.

We want to increase the reach of repair projects across the UK. And importantly, Chris emphasises the need to do this in a sustainable way, by finding new partners who can offer support and make repair cafés self-sustaining. Some want to use repair cafés as a vehicle to educate people and spread the message of climate action. What is probably the biggest shared aspiration is that of finding a permanent space for repair projects so the group took great inspiration from a visit to RE:MAKE Newport at the beginning of the weekend and a session on dedicated repair spaces. Almost everyone also wants to grow aspects of their operations, especially by incorporating borrowing libraries into their work.

How can we engage politicians?

Another exciting event at Fixfest UK was the unveiling of the new Repair and Reuse Declaration. It’s one of the ways we are taking action to make repair for everyone and demanding that the UK government support repair. Our guests share a host of ways that they’ve engaged their local politicians but what seems to work best is inviting them to an event, repairing something for them and really demonstrating the value of repair.

“Befriend your local [politicians], get them in so that they can see what you do because once they see your repair cafés and they see what difference it makes to the community and to the environment, they’re going to be blown away.”

If you want the UK government to take action on repair please sign the declaration as a group or organisation and encourage your local MP to do the same!


(Feature image by Mark A Phillips, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

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