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Restart Podcast Ep. 42: A computer clinic for (and by) the community

the inside of a laptop

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In this episode, we travel to North West England to meet Dave and Anne Carlos, co-founders of the West Fleetwood Computer Clinic. Set up by the Emmanuel Church, this Computer Clinic wants to serve the community by lowering people’s barriers to technology, while making devices last for longer. We interview Dave Carlos, and we hear from various organisers, fixers and attendees of one of these ‘clinics’, which take place at the Rossall Tavern, the local pub.

Lowering barriers to using technology

At the West Fleetwood Computer Clinic, anyone can get help with technology. A team of ‘geeks’, as they proudly call themselves, will have a look at your device, and help you maintain it, repair it… or simply use it better!

The area of Fleetwood used to be a prosperous fishing town, but it has been deeply affected by economic change. Many people can’t spend much on technology, and hence they can find it hard to repair their products. Even getting help with software, or getting simple tips to use your devices, can be hard. In this context, the Computer Clinic has created a space for digital inclusion, where money, and knowledge, are no longer such high barriers to own technology.

Like at our Restart Parties, there is no cost for attending the clinics. Also, even though the Computer Clinic is set up by the Emmanuel Church, any one – participant or organiser – can be part of the events, whatever their faith.

Part of a wider movement

We got in touch with the West Fleetwood Computer Clinic when they signed the Manchester Declaration. As Dave Carlos told us, they signed the declaration for a clear reason:

“anybody who’s ever worked on a laptop knows that it is not meant to be repaired […]. The Manchester Declaration is not only talking about the fact that we need more repairable kit. But that manufacturers have a responsibility to make it repairable.”

Rob Ginny, Pastor from the Emmanuel Church, also reminds us that the Church as an institution generally needs to catch up with environmental matters. With this mindset, supporting a movement where people reuse instead of throwing away, seems like the right direction.

People come to the repair movement with many different backgrounds and perspectives. The West Fleetwood Computer Clinic is putting humans at the centre, thinking further than their own community. They are now recording repair data through the Fixometer, and they are part of the wider network of communities who are fixing to improve life for each other, and for the planet.


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