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Restart Radio: Introducing Fixing Factories

Fixing Factories launch day

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We’ve had a busy month here at Restart. On April 23rd, we launched the first Fixing Factory site in the Abbey Road Reuse and Recycling Centre, Brent. It’s a project that we are ecstatic has finally become a reality and we can’t wait to see how it blossoms. For this episode of Restart Radio, Ugo Vallauri is joined by our Co-Director, Fiona Dear and London Network Coordinator, Shelini Kotecha. They have been working closely on the project and shared with us the experience so far. 

Self-repair on the horizon

Firstly though, we discuss some recent news stories in the world of electronics repair. Last week, it was announced that the Austrian Repair Bonus was coming into action across the country. This made us more than a little envious. We then cover a study released by Microsoft which makes a surprisingly strong case for increased product repairability (not that that’s news to us). In a similar vein, Samsung, Google, and Apple have all recently announced steps towards self-repair, including the availability of spare parts. We break down how effective these moves might be and what needs to happen next to achieve a real Right to Repair. 

What are Fixing Factories?

Fiona and Shelini tell us how the opening of the first Fixing Factory location went. We celebrated the day in Brent with partners on the project and it was wonderful to see the space come to life. Fiona explains how the Fixing Factory project first came about and our collaboration with Possible and other partners to make a longtime dream of Restart come true. We outline the mission to bring repair into view of the public and provide learning opportunities. As part of this goal, Fiona tells us about the school that they visited just ahead of launch in order to promote the project to young people, and get feedback. It’s inspiring to see how passionate and interested the school children were in repair, even after just a couple of hours of tinkering inside a phone. 

Fixing Factories school visit

We’re working with a lot of amazing partners on this project, including Ready Tech Go, Possible, West London Waste Authority and Mer-IT, many of which you may have heard on Restart Radio at some point. Shelini tells us about the work that Ready Tech Go is doing at the Brent site, refurbishing used laptops to donate them to people in need. In fact, if you have a laptop you’re no longer using you can get involved today! You can either drop it off at the Brent site or visit one of our dropboxes at Greenford Recycling Centre or Townmead Recycling Centre. Find the details here.  

What’s next?

Lastly, Shelini and Fiona look toward the future and share with us the vision for the second location. In the summer, Fixing Factories will come to a high street in Camden with the support of Possible. We hope to provide a community space for repair and encourage people’s curiosity about fixing. With the support of Mer-IT, we also plan to teach repair skills to future technicians. Through this course and volunteering opportunities, we hope to create career pathways for young people and support a thriving repair economy in London. 


[Images by Mark A Phillips, licensed under CC BY 4.0.]

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