Forming neighbourhood connections one repair at a time
Docklands Neighbourhood House and Docklands Representative Group (DRG) have come together for the relaunch of the area’s very own Repair Cafe.
The first partnered community event took place on Sunday, July 24 at The Hub on Harbour Esplanade, and DRG and the Neighbourhood House are hoping to make it a regular monthly event in multiple community spaces around Docklands.
“It is really great to get the Repair Cafe up and running again after our February one, that we did as part of the Sustainable Living Festival, went really well,” Neighbourhood House community development officer Jason Butcher said.
“My hope is to get as much community support from it as possible, not just in people coming and taking part but to also get a local repairer network up and running with locals who are happy to share in their skills, meet new people, swap knowledge and help their neighbours out.”
The concept of a Repair Cafe, its sustainable benefits and its ability to provide a space for locals to bring broken goods and work on solutions together has been growing around the world following its origins in the Netherlands.
“The whole idea of a Repair Cafe is for locals to sit down with the fixers, repairers and menders and share knowledge and skills while promoting sustainability and the idea that once something is broken it doesn’t mean it is disposable and can’t be fixed,” Mr Butcher said.
The first Docklands Repair Cafe event, following its relaunch, was no different to the original concept.
From volunteers with abilities in electronic and mechanical repairs to a local with a long-lasting love of sewing and mending, the Repair Cafe started off strong with locals who gave up their day to support their neighbours who came in.
One repairer worked extensively to help an elderly gentleman with a broken handbrake on his walker that was stopping him from keeping active. The gentleman watched on as his son and the repairer collaborated to ensure he walked away no longer hesitant when it came to steep hills on his walks.
In the same room a volunteer repairer was working with a mother and her son to fix an electronic toy.
The local Docklands volunteer with a love for sewing since she was 11 was also working with a neighbour after she found the advertisement and thought volunteering “sounded like fun”.
“I am very much one for fixing if it can be fixed, because a lot of things are made beautifully and people will just get rid of them because they don’t know how to sew,” the volunteer said.
“It’s also nice to meet people in your area that you wouldn’t otherwise meet. So, we are so lucky to have this space [at The Hub] that we can use. Places like this is what I really like about Docklands because it shows it is a real community.”
Sitting across from the volunteer was a lady who brought in a cushion cover that needed mending, who added that Repair Cafes were helpful because “you rely on the people around you to fix stuff you can’t fix yourself”.
While not everything can be fixed at a Repair Cafe due to a lack of parts needed or some repairs being beyond the expertise of the volunteers, the event’s purpose is to learn skills together and help out your neighbours.
“The DRG and Neighbourhood House want the Repair Cafe to become a hive for like-minded Docklanders to meet and share skills and tips around sustainability in vertical living,” DRG member Janette Corcoran said.
“It’s an event for neighbours to help neighbours which helps grow connections across different parts of our wonderfully diverse community, and it is great to see different generations working together to pass on some hands-on skills.”
The next Repair Cafe will take place on August 28 from 2pm to 5pm. Docklands Melbourne Community Toy Library and Neighbourhood House is asking for anyone with toys to repair for themselves or to donate to come along.
For more information and/or to get involved in repairing or providing general support visit Docklands Neighbood House’s Facebook page. •
Photography: Murray Enders