Whether you’re a sewer, electrical repairer, jeweller, bike repairer, basket weaver, book binder or more – if you’re a confident repairer, and keen to help people in Cambridgeshire to get things fixed, then we’d love to hear from you! From relatively simple repairs like replacing fuses, sewing on buttons and sharpening tools, to more complex repairs such as circuit board work, diagnosing intermittent electrical faults and making clothing alterations – we can pair you up with people who will be grateful for your help!

What is a Repair Cafe?

Repair Cafes are community events that match people who need stuff fixed, with people who like fixing things. The international Repair Cafe movement started in Amsterdam in 2009. There are now over 600 Repair Cafes in the UK and over 3,000 internationally. Repair Cafes are non-commercial and focus on bringing people together to share skills and reduce the environmental burden of consumption.

Do I need professional qualifications to repair?

No, we are a group of experienced volunteer repairers. If you regularly repair things for yourself and for other people then we’d love to hear from you! 

Will I be trained and mentored?

Unfortunately, we don't currently have capacity to train repairers. This means that we are looking for volunteer repairers who are already confident repairing items for themselves and other people. If you are new to Repair Cafes, please let the event organiser know and tell them whether you would prefer to sit alongside an experienced repairer or if you are happy to repairer independently with an experienced repairer nearby mentoring you from a distance. The general expectation is that you are mentored for one or two Repair Cafes before repairing independently. 

Will I get paid?

No, all our repairers are volunteers. We find that repairers often get as much out of a Repair Cafe as visitors. As well as the buzz of fixing something and the gratitude from the visitors, we offer free tea, coffee and cake to repairers. Please email us if you would like to claim expenses for repairing with us. We are happy to pay expenses but these need to be agreed in advance.

What types of items do people bring for repair?

About 60% of the items we see are powered (things like kitchen appliances, vacuum cleaners, lamps, toys & music equipment) and 40% are unpowered (e.g. clothes, other textile repairs, bikes and tools). Many repairers comment that they are surprised at how achievable many repairs are.

Here are a couple more things to bear in mind:

  • Repair slots are usually about 45mins so we manage expectations as to what can be achieved in this time and visitors often bring items to the next Repair Cafe (e.g. buying a spare part in between)
  • We don’t accept some items on safety grounds e.g. microwaves and old TVs can hold a charge
  • Our insurance will cover soldering and the use of heat guns but not welding
  • We promote local repair businesses (e.g. for mobile phone or laptop repairs) but do sometimes accept these repairs where a free repair would help someone out.

How do I offer to repair, and how will items be assigned to me?

Please sign up to join our Repairers Register if you would like to repair with us. We will send you a monthly newsletter on the first Thursday of the month, including a form with volunteer opportunities for upcoming Repair Cafes in Cambridgeshire that are seeking repairers.

Each Repair Cafe in Cambridgeshire is organised by a different local organising group. The relevant Repair Cafe organisers will be sent information about your repair skills and interests from the Repairers Register and will be in touch with you directly to let you know whether they are able to accept your kind offer to repair with them.

Each group runs their Repair Cafes slightly differently, some will share bookings with you and ask you to choose repairs, others will allocate items based on the information you provided when you registered. If you have any particular requests, simply email the relevant organiser.

What should I expect on the day?

We recommend that you arrive at the Repair Cafe venue an hour before the public opening time. Organisers will hold a safety briefing half an hour before the start time. If it's your first Repair Cafe they will introduce you to an experienced repairer to mentor you. 

Repair slots are usually about 45mins long but arrangements will differ across Repair Cafes. Visitors are encouraged to stay with you whilst you work on the repair so that you can explain what you're doing and share some of your skills. It's a very collaborative environment and repairers often ask each other for advice and help.

All visitors are asked to sign a copy of our Repair Agreement. In order to make sure as many people as possible can get something fixed, we usually limit items to one per person but fit in extra requests where possible. If a visitor asks you to look at an additional item, it's good practice to check in with the organiser to see whether they have other visitors waiting.

At the end of an attempted repair, please fill in the Repairer Recording Sheet and record the repair outcome using the key at the bottom of the page. This information will be input into the Restart Fixometer in order to estimate the emissions savings and waste avoided by our Repair Cafes and to support the lobby for the right to repair.

Tea, coffee and cake is provided for free to all repairers and volunteers. 

What about tools, spare parts and PAT testing?

One of our shared toolkits will be available to you at the Repair Cafe (see inventory here). This includes many common and specialist tools and replacement parts (e.g. screws, clips, batteries, fuses etc) for electrical and mechanical repairs. 

If a repair requires a spare part that's available in the toolkit, simply use the spare and encourage the visitor to make a donation if appropriate. You can note any supplies that are running low in the toolkit on the Repairer's Recording Sheet. If a specialist spare part is needed please advise the visitor on what they should buy and encourage them to bring it to another Repair Cafe.

All mains powered electrical items must be PAT tested in line with our PAT test policy.

We don't currently have a sewing toolkit as many of our sewers prefer to bring their own supplies. If you would like to claim expenses for sewing supplies please email us (we are happy to do this but need to agree expenses in advance).

Are Repair Cafes insured?

Within the Cambridgeshire Repair Cafe Network we set a requirement that all Repair Cafes that request repairers from our network have a minimum level of public liability, employers and product liability insurance as set out in our Insurance Guidance. You can contact specific organisers directly to check what cover they have in place.

“I was surprised at how achievable many of the repairs were”

Join us

Our first recommendation for anyone who wants to repair with us is to visit a Repair Cafe. It’s a great way to see what’s involved, meet people and ask questions. Once you’ve done that, take a look at the criteria below and sign up to join us. We’ll then send you a newsletter on the first Thursday of the month with a sign up form that allows you to offer your skills at upcoming Repair Cafes that are seeking repairers, PAT testers and lead repairers. Each Repair Cafe is organised by a different organising group. The relevant organiser will be sent details of your repair skills from the register and will be in touch with you directly to let you know whether they can accept your kind offer to repair. If it is your first time repairing with us, please let the organiser know so that they can arrange for you to be mentored. 


PAT tester

Lead repairer

Demonstrating PAT testing competence

Offering to PAT test is a great support to Repair Cafes. You get to meet lots of the visitors, especially those who have had an item fixed!

Our PAT test policy is set out here. The test must be carried out by a competent person, which means someone who has completed a professional PAT training course, or someone who can demonstrate competence in electrical safety. If a repairer is keen to offer to PAT test but does not have a formal qualification, Wessex insurance have agreed that the following free course by Parker Bell can be used to demonstrate PAT testing competence for the purpose of a Repair Cafe:

Repairers should complete this course and keep a screenshot of the “pass” page in order to demonstrate competence. There is no need to pay for the certificate. Please then email us and we’ll add this to your entry in the Repairers Register.

Why repair?

The stuff that we use every day carries a high environmental burden due to resource extraction, processing, product manufacture and transport. Pre-use emissions account for 84% of the lifecycle emissions of a blender, 79% of the lifecycle emissions of a mobile phone and 73% of lifecycle emissions of our clothes. We have become used to a high churn of household items to support our lifestyles, because our stuff fails quickly, because we find it hard to get things fixed and because our preferences change over time. So much so, that in the UK we generate the second highest amount of e-waste per person globally. But there are fruitful opportunities for change at the community and individual level: 64% of items that are brought to our Repair Cafes are fixed then-and-there in a 45 min slot, and there is plenty more potential for repair and reuse with almost half of the electricals sent for recycling either fully usable or economical to repair.


Thank you to our sponsors who support the vibrant community repair movement in Cambridgeshire