Mend it, fix it, re-use it – Richmond Community Centre Workshop

In this community, repair workshops are held to help the community fix things, share knowledge and reduce waste. Meet Richmond Community Centre Workshop.

Published by Netta on 11/04/2018

Mend it, fix it, re-use it is the motto at the repair workshops happening in Melbourne. Give some time to that broken item and you, or someone, may be able to help you fix it, and let it live another day. 

A City Made By People Melbourne Richmond Community Repair Workshop 1

Image courtesy of Richmond Community Learning Centre

We all know how frustrating it is when something stops working, often right when we need it to do the task at hand. Thinking it’s broken, we will simply go to the shop and buy a replacement. Items are so cheap to buy now that we have become a throwaway culture, as often it’s less expensive to buy a new item then send it to the manufacturer to repair. 

Well what if we could learn some basic skills and knowledge to enable us to fix that item ourselves? That’s exactly what the Repair workshops and Repair cafes popping up around Melbourne are setting out to do. A friendly, cost free space where you can meet volunteers from your neighbourhood who may have the skills to fix an item of yours that has stopped working. 

Images courtesy of @melbournerepaircafe

These workshops are geared towards small household items that we use daily – lamps, coffee machines, toasters and most commonly vacuum cleaners – which is exactly what I have brought in myself. I initially spent above budget for my vacuum cleaner so naturally I was disappointed when it recently started losing power and suction. Shocked at the repair cost the manufacturer quoted me, and weighing up my choices of buying a new, cheaper one, I then heard about the Richmond Repair workshop and decided to go along. 

A City Made By People Melbourne Richmond Community Repair Workshop 2
A City Made By People Melbourne Richmond Community Repair Workshop 8

Spurred on by the well-established Repair Café in Yarraville, Oren Rozensweig wanted to start monthly repair workshops at the Richmond Community centre, “we’ve been exploring paths to increase community awareness in sustainability and waste within a community participation framework, these repair sessions seem like a great fit.” Tim, Helen and Steve are the lead volunteers here with the aim of the program being waste reduction as well as engaging with others.

Participants are asked to send a photo of their item to the team before they come to a session, so any parts or tools required can be ready on the day. Of course, there is no guarantee the item will be fixed but solving problems and fixing things is something that these volunteers really thrive on and enjoy. 

Images courtesy of @melbournerepaircafe

Andrew who is helping me with my vacuum cleaner tells me he has “almost an obsession with fixing things, I hate seeing things thrown away when I know there’s probably a tiny element that needs tweaking to prolong that items life. I can’t walk past any hard rubbish on the street without picking something up and taking it home. Items I don’t need, I just really enjoy getting things up and running again”. 

It turns out the filter in my vacuum cleaner just needed a thorough clean, the encouragement and assistance I got dismantling it at the repair workshop really helped me feel confident about maintaining items I have, rather than simply buying new things in the future. After each item is repaired, Oren weighs it and keeps a tally of the waste reduction achieved “today we have diverted 28kg of items going to landfill and approximately 70-80kg as a total, over just the 4 sessions we have had here in Richmond.”

A City Made By People Melbourne Richmond Community Repair Workshop 7

Image courtesy of Melbourne Repair Cafe

Melbourne is a rapidly growing city, workshops like these help communities realise the strain our population and material existence is having on the natural environment. Taking the time to fix, recycle and re-purpose things is also taking the time to care about the city and place we live in. 

Take your broken item to the next monthly repair workshop at Burnley Backyard- 49 Tudor Street, Richmond, or check the Repair Cafe website for their next session.  

Words & Images by Netta Justice

Keen on reading more stories about communities, city life & culture? Take a peek at Issue 2 of our print journal. 

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