Earth Notes: Repair Café Kingston Report to Council and TTK AGM (2024)

Updated 2024-04-08 19:10 GMT.
By Damon Hart-Davis.
How the past year went repairing appliances, toys, clothes, etc!
Kingston Council granted the Repair Café from its Community Resilience Fund and requested a small video/audio update. The TTK AGM will get much the same since it is a good summary. Some of this was recorded at the RCK to convey a bit of the atmosphere.

(Some was recorded at a TTK , outside but under cover in heavy rain!)

Many or most of the words are from Marilyn M: thank you!

378s "202403 RCK report" (captions) Uploaded . Downloads:


Our Repair Café update in five snippets:

  1. Who we (TTK) are, and what we do.
  2. About the Repair Café Kingston project.
  3. What funding has done for TTK/RCK.
  4. How the RCK is going and what we are planning.
  5. Examples of people that RCK has helped, including some data.


1: Who We Are: TTK

TTK logo

Transition Town Kingston (TTK) is a community group helping to raise awareness of the climate crisis and encourage the transition to a resilient and sustainable low-carbon future. To that end, we:

  • foster and support a range of practical and inclusive environmental projects,
  • we educate and campaign about the climate crisis,
  • we encourage sustainable food production and less wasteful consumption,
  • we promote energy-efficiency and alternatives to fossil-fuels,
  • we share ideas, skills, information and news,
  • we organise local events and workshops...


2: About the Project: RCK

Our Repair Café project, now entering its second year, aligns well with TTK's core aims and ethos. The community faces several challenges that we can help with:

  • the energy, climate and cost-of-living crises,
  • the need to reduce waste,
  • lack of know-how,
  • and social isolation...

The project mobilises community capacities and resources, builds relationships, trust, and collaboration.

In our first year, we have fixed items for, or advised diverse visitors on, miscellaneous items, including:

  • clothing,
  • a record player,
  • hairdryers,
  • toasters,
  • rice-cookers,
  • favourite toys...

The Repair Café ethos includes skill-sharing and confidence-building (by watching and learning), contributing to users' capabilities and resilience as well as saving them money and keeping repairable items out of the waste system. Our volunteers of all ages share their experience, expertise and skills, and seem to enjoy the purposeful activity and engagement with visitors and each other. The sociable aspects of Repair Café (we offer refreshments) enhance the well-being of all participants.


3: What the Funding Achieved


The Resilience Fund has enabled us to secure our future, to improve safe working practices in our Repair Café project, and to continue encouraging and empowering the community to re-use and repair.

Funding is being spent on:

  • training,
  • specialist insurance cover,
  • further outreach (via printed posters and fliers),

and on more equipment to replace or supplement borrowed items:

  • circuit breakers,
  • a Portable Appliance Tester to protect volunteers and visitors,
  • a substantial extension lead,
  • reusable cups to cut down on our waste,
  • a second-hand Zettle to enable cashless donations towards the project's ongoing costs and self-sufficiency, and contributions towards the overheads of our parent group TTK, ensuring its resilience too.

4: How it is Going, and Plans


We think that things are going pretty well. We have recruited a skilful and versatile team of about 30 volunteer fixers. Diverse members of the local community have brought in a wide range of items for repair or advice, and go away afterwards satisfied. Amongst the repair networks we belong to, we compare quite well, and seem to be reasonably competent and successful in repairing stuff.

We can't easily expand in the space we have in Kingston Library. But we would happily advise and support others in the borough who wanted to set up something similar or complementary. We have already had several visitors from neighbouring groups or researchers or students observing how we do things. Sharing advice and information is a positive aspect of Repair Cafés generally.

Plans include:

  • More fliers/posters to maintain visitor numbers.
  • Succession planning to maintain enough organisers and volunteers.
  • Helping the Library by paying for more power points.

5: Examples of Help from RCK


repairs to 202403

On a typical repair morning () we repaired:

  • Sewing machine
  • Pyjama
  • Dog toy
  • Rucksack
  • Backpack
  • 2 Bags
  • Blocked trimmer
  • 2 Lamps
  • Jacket cuffs
  • Paddle board bag
  • Radio

Advice given:

  • Dehydrator
  • Computer
  • Umbrella
  • Laptop

Not repaired/irreparable:

  • Clock
  • Lamp toggle switch
  • 2 Vacuum cleaners
  • Food mixer
  • Leather jacket

We typically see around 25 items each session, with about a third of the outcomes in each of the categories above (repaired, partial repair or advice, not repaired).

In part we (organisers, volunteers, visitors) are there for the social element and the company too!


One of our Volunteers


I enjoy the fixing, the community aspect, the social aspect. I'm learning from the others and I'm helping people fix their own things.


With spoken contributions from Hilary, Marilyn, Gillian, and Damon.

Show Notes

This was the first episode for which the lo-fi (smaller, mono, MP3 and Opus) versions were made automatically. Just the FLAC and stereo MP3 were checked in.

~867 words.