Repair cafe opens in Napier, Hawke’s Bay Sewing machines replace coffee in new cafe

Elisa Kersley and Helen Howard pictured with Helen’s children, Frederick and Miles Hakkaart, at the entrance to Napier Repair Cafe. Photo / Paul Taylor

Aside from baristas and bakers, volunteers are pitched in to join Napier’s new cafe.

Sustainable Napier’s Helen Howard and her friend Elisa Kersley have led the charge to try to move away from a throwaway culture and into a repairer culture, opening the Repair Cafe.

“My friend Elisa and I have always been interested in practical solutions to climate change, zero waste and building community resilience. We were talking a few months ago about our throwaway culture and how we saw Repair Cafés are working overseas, and we thought that might be something we could make work in Napier.”

Helen says the couple looked into the matter and came across Repair Cafes Aotearoa NZ.

“They gave us a great manual on how to run one, so we thought why not? Too many items that could be fixed end up in the landfill, because people either don’t have the time or they don’t have the skills to fix them.”

The Repair Cafe will open at Asher Hall, Tennyson St, on Saturday June 25, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the last Saturday of each month thereafter. Helen says they need volunteers to be there 30 minutes early to help organize and attend a volunteer briefing.

“Seamstresses who bring their own sewing machine will be encouraged to be there from 10:30 a.m. so that we can all set them up in due time. Also, volunteers do not need to commit to attending each month, whatever the coffee. they are able to make it happen.”

Although Helen says it’s unclear how many volunteers they’ll need, around 30 have raised their hands so far, with sewing appearing to be the most popular area of ​​repair.

“I would say that we may need six sewing machines with sewers and a few hand seamstresses who can darn socks, patch items, sew on buttons, etc. We will need two bicycle repairmen, two to three repairers of small electrical appliances, two repairers of jewelry and two general repairers, gluing of toys, etc.”

Persons bringing items for repair must be able to transport them themselves, will be greeted at the hall entrance and given a registration form to complete indicating the type of item they have brought for repair and what who does not go. They will then be invited to have a cup of tea and a piece of cake while they wait for a repairman to become available for the area of ​​expertise they need.

“Once the item has been looked at and/or repaired, we will then write on the form whether or not it could be repaired. If not, why not? can be fixed at next month’s cafe?”

Helen says they will only accept small appliances – no ovens or fridges etc.

“Also, if your item cannot be repaired, I would respectfully ask that you take it with you as I cannot afford to pay to dispose of people’s items in the landfill. The Environment Center will on site to recycle any electrical items that cannot be repaired, which we are very grateful for.”

The Repair Café is also looking for people to help with the entrance and bakers who want to bake items for the café.

Statistics will be collected on the number of items that have been repaired in order to measure the success rate of repairs. Admission is free, but a koha is encouraged to cover the cost of refreshments.

Helen has also organized a tamariki area for children while their parents are busy and a small “free library” of books that people can take away and return to the next monthly coffee shop with topics on climate change, DIY and repair, fruit and vegetable gardening, zero waste, minimalism, sewing, etc.

“People are encouraged to come in and out and chat even if they don’t bring any items to fix. Freshly roasted coffee is provided by our fabulous sponsors, Switch Coffee Roasters, and we will have tea and fresh pastries available . .”

Sufficient funding has been secured to hopefully run the cafe from June to November this year.

“I would like to continue next year, but it will depend on my ability to secure continued funding. As Sustainable Napier is not a registered charitable trust, I cannot apply for some of the larger community grants available.”

Other ideas she would like to introduce are seed and production exchange tables, a clothing exchange area, and a craft area for tamariki using recycled materials.

“If I register Sustainable Napier as a charitable trust, I would like to create a permanent sustainable community center in Napier with a tool library, composting and worm farm workshops, community fridge and free library, Stitch ‘n Bitch nights, zero waste workshops, bike repair center and community gardens, etc.”

Helen says she would like anyone to help get in touch.

“I could use some help handing out flyers and posters and an extra pair or two on the day is always appreciated.”

■ For more information and updates, check Sustainable Napier’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

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