Rural community repair and a van called ‘Fixy’

Most community repair groups are based in towns and cities, but repair is just as essential in rural communities. The lower population density and distances create new challenges. But with a combination of good organisation, willing volunteers and support from the local authority, they can provide an essential service to their local community.

One such group is Porlock Vale Repair Cafe, based on the edge of Exmoor in West Somerset, and run repair events in local villages.  Their events currently cover Porlock, Allerford and Wooton Courtney villages.  Local repair events are also supported and promoted by a county-wide initiative and a blue van called ‘Fixy’.

Porlock Vale Repair Cafe, like many Repair Cafe’s repair a wide range of items. On the day I visited they had a team of fourteen people covering: domestic electricals electronics and computers (Steve, Peter and Alan),furniture (Terry); clothing,toys and fabrics (Sue and Julie); tools and mechanical goods (Oli and Graham). They also have a specialist mending clocks (Joe).  Ruth and Ella organised the event and booked in the items.  Anne and Lesley provided the essential refreshments to both repairers and visitors.

‘Business’ was brisk, with a queue forming soon after the 10 am opening. An early success was repairing the local Spar shop’s meat slicer which had broken down that morning and needed an urgent electrical repair.  Also repaired were kettles, lamps, bags, clothing and soft toys. Garden and kitchen tools were sharpened.

Many repairs were carried out of the spot, but some require more time. Porlock Vale offer a service (like Market Harborough Fixers) where the item can be left with the repairer if it needs more time or a special part.

Rural repair activities in Somerset are supported by Fixy, a mobile reuse van. The Fixy initiative is led by the Resource Futures consultancy, in partnership with Somerset Waste Partnership and Donate-IT, a local community interest company that refurbishes laptops, tablets and phones, and distributes them to families who need them. The van has a collection point for these items and Donate-IT will securely data-wipe donations.

Rob Hookway, who takes the Fixy van around the county, collects donated items for repair and reuse, and also promotes the importance of repair and reuse, as well as supporting the sixteen local Repair Cafe group and their events around the county.