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The repair revolution is rising, thanks to some fantastic volunteers and dedicated community workers right here in Glasgow.

Scotland’s first Repair Café has opened in Kinning Park, and as well as encouraging people to think more responsibly about the stuff they are throwing away every day, it has become a popular social hub for the surrounding area.

Looking after the environment is a key part of Streets Ahead, our awardwinning community campaign backed by City Charitable Trust, Glasgow City Council and City Building.

In the eight years since we launched the initiative, which encourages people to work together for the benefit of their neighbourhoods and the city as a whole, projects tackling sustainability and climate change have become much more prevalent.

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The Repair Café is a great example of a community initiative which encourages people to think about reducing their environmental impact and brings neighbours together at the same time.

The first Repair Café, founded by Martine Postma, opened in Amsterdam in 2009 and there are now around 1500 located in 33 countries.  

There are 50 and rising in the UK – Glasgow is the first in Scotland.

It’s not about competing with professional repair specialists – the very opposite, in fact as Repair Cafes encourage people to consider getting things repaired rather than throwing them away.

Visitors are frequently advised to go to the few professionals still around. Like the hit BBC daytime show, Repair Shop, people also bring along treasured items for the team to fix.

“We had one woman bring in a lovely lamp that had belonged to her mother, which we managed to repair,” explains the group’s marketing manager Lauren Crilly.

“Her mum had passed away, so it was something she really wanted to keep. She was so pleased, it was very emotional.”

She adds: “Lots of people bring in wedding presents, for example, or items they have held on to for years even though they no longer work. They just can’t get rid of them, and they bring them to us in the hope we can get them working and they can hold on to them for longer.”

One of the most unusual items Lauren has seen, she says, was a vintage Teasmade.

“I had never seen one before,” she laughs. “Once we looked inside, we realised it was quite a complicated mechanism combining the alarm clock and tea maker – it was a challenge to repair!”

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The Glasgow Repair Café is the first in Scotland, set up a year ago with money from the Climate Challenge Fund.

“The support from the community has been fantastic, we really hit the ground running,” says Lauren, who runs the project with founder Jon Dawes.

“Jon is a repairer too, and he was doing informal sessions as part of the Kinning Park Complex’s Social Sunday events. They were proving so popular, he decided they needed a space of their own.”

Lauren adds: “We now run monthly events, as well as some pop-up sessions outside the city, and different workshops. Recently, we held a DIY skills workshop for women and non-binary people, and it was a great success.”

The idea is simple – people bring along household items such as kettles, laptops and lamps and a bunch of brilliant volunteer repairers get to work.

“We started with four volunteers and now we have more than 20,” smiles Lauren. “It’s fantastic. They are incredibly skilled and come from all backgrounds – product designers, computer technicians, engineers and natural DIY tinkerers! We also have five textile repairers, including an older lady who has been doing it all her life, and is just full of great tips, and two younger women who studied fashion.”

She adds: “It’s a bit like The Repair Shop on telly – I love that programme – although they tend to focus on much more specialised items. But the emotional significance for many is the same.”

The group feeds back information to product manufacturers about the durability of the items, as part of the worldwide Right to Repair movement. And, as Lauren explains, the café is becoming a real community hub too  “There are huge social benefits to the Repair Café – people come along and have a chat, learn some new skills and get to know each other over a cup of tea, which is lovely,” she explains.

“Kinning Park is a real melting pot of cultures, with many refugees and asylum seekers living here so it’s great that we’re also bringing people together. We’re working closely with other local groups concerned about sustainability, such as Bike for Good.

“People are more concerned about this throwaway culture we have – we can see a real frustration amongst people over the lack of durability in these products that they bring along. It’s good those conversations are happening, and the Repair Café is a great space to have them.”

The Repair Café is holding a special event on May 25 to mark its first anniversary. For more information visit