A photo of four women all grouped together smiling at the camera. The women are holding large cardboard cut-outs of a pair of scissors and a screwdriver. The purpose of these cut outs is to promote repairing items, community repair groups and repair cafes to try encourage more circular thinking.
Tuesday, 12 December 2023

Fixfest 2023

Our team attended Fixfest in Cardiff in September and had an inspiring day of workshops, talks and panels. Fixfest UK 2023 was the biggest gathering of community repair projects in the UK – a chance to connect, share, celebrate and strengthen our fantastic movement. It was brilliant to see so many community groups in one place sharing knowledge, discussing the future and connecting. 

With so many fantastic workshops to attend, the team spread across different activities to gain as much insight as possible. The morning started with talks on connecting repair to the community and we heard from other community networks offering support to their local repair groups. It was brilliant to hear what was useful to the repair groups and to get ideas for the CAG Somerset network. Lots of ideas were discussed including having toolkits to share, clothes swap kits for groups to use, and e-waste collection points.  

Engaging the next generation is a common goal of repair groups so it was uplifting to see so many of the younger generation at this conference. The workshop on engaging younger audiences centred the younger people in the room and it was brilliant to hear their insights into engagement. There were examples from Bath Repair Café who discussed their partnership with Bath University where they repaired and redistributed small electricals from old students to new. Restart also offer training courses for 16–24-year-olds to train to be repairers. Some repair cafes had linked with Duke of Edinburgh liaisons in their local area and students have completed their volunteering hours with local repair cafes, with some remaining volunteers long term. Social media was also discussed and the need to promote repair and repair cafes on platforms that are used more frequently by the younger generations, such as Instagram and TikTok.  

There was a fabulous talk by Jane Dixon on the market research carried out by Circular Communities Scotland. It showed that in general, there is a willingness to try to repair items and 44% of people try to fix an item either every time or nearly every time before replacing with a new item. However, when asked how they would repair the item, only 8% said that they would use a community repair project and 90% of respondents said they have never been to a repair project before. The main barriers raised were firstly, lack of knowledge as 70% of respondents hadn’t heard of community projects where you can take items to be repaired and then the two barriers listed as to why people don’t use these community projects were ‘that the location is too far’ and the ‘opening times were poor.’ As we begin to establish Somerset’s CAG Network, this got us thinking about how we can better promote repair to the general public and how we can support new groups with getting off the ground so that as many people as possible have a local repair group! You can read the full report here.  

Unbroken Solutions also had an exhibit available to view throughout the day with imagery that aptly showed the magnitude of our throwaway culture and our unsustainable resource use. Brilliantly the piece also included stories of successful repair projects to show how we can make a difference. I recommend checking out the unbroken solutions website, it is fabulous!   

Overall, it was an inspiring day and we hope to see you at the next FixFest, keep an eye on their website for updates!   

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A picture of a community allotment. wooden planters are in neat rows with small paths between them. Within the planters are different green leafy plants of varying heights. In some planters are canes growing peas. All plants appear to be seasonal summer vegetables. To the back right of the image are some sheds and the community allotment continues right through the image