Docklands Neighborhood House and Docklands Representative Group (DRG) have come together to relaunch the area’s Repair Cafe.
The first partnership community event took place on Sunday July 24 at The Hub on the harbor esplanade, and DRG and the Neighborhood House hope to make this a regular monthly event in several community spaces around Docklands.
“It’s really great to get the Repair Cafe back up and running after the one in February, which we did as part of the Sustainable Living Festival, which went really well,” said Jason Butcher, community development manager for Neighborhood. House.
“My hope is to get as much support as possible from the community, not only from people who come and participate, but also to build a local network of repairers with locals who are happy to share their skills, to meet new people, exchange knowledge and help their neighbours.
The concept of a Repair Café, its lasting benefits and its ability to provide a space for locals to bring in broken goods and work together on solutions has grown around the world from its origins in the Netherlands.
“The very idea of a Repair Cafe is for locals to sit down with repairers, repairers and repairmen and share their knowledge and skills while promoting sustainability and the idea that once something is broken, it doesn’t mean it’s disposable and can’t be fixed,” Butcher said.
The first Docklands Repair Cafe event, after its relaunch, was no different from the original concept.
From volunteers with skills in electronic and mechanical repairs to a local with a passion for sewing and mending, the Repair Cafe started strong with locals giving up their day to support their neighbors who came.
A repairman worked hard to help an elderly man with a broken handbrake on his walker that was preventing him from staying active. The gentleman watched as his son and the repairman collaborated to ensure he pulled away without hesitation when it came to steep hills on his walks.
In the same room, a volunteer repairman was working with a mother and son to repair an electronic toy.
The local Docklands volunteer, who has had a passion for sewing since she was 11, was also working with a neighbor after finding the ad and thought volunteering ‘sounds like fun’.
“I’m very much in favor of repairing if it can be repaired, because a lot of things are beautifully made and people will throw them away just 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 are what I really love about Docklands because it shows that it’s a real community.
Seated across from the volunteer was a lady who brought in a cushion cover that needed fixing, who added that Repair Cafés were helpful because “you rely on people around you to fix things you don’t. can’t fix it yourself.”
Although not everything can be repaired in a Repair Café due to a lack of necessary parts or some repairs beyond the expertise of the volunteers, the aim of the event is to learn skills together and help your neighbors.
“The DRG and Neighborhood House want the Repair Cafe to become a beehive for like-minded Docklanders to meet and share skills and advice on sustainability in vertical living,” said DRG member Janette Corcoran.
“It’s a neighbors helping neighbors event, which helps develop bonds between different parts of our wonderfully diverse community, and it’s great to see different generations working together to pass on life skills.”
The next Repair Café will take place on August 28 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Docklands Melbourne Community Toy Library and Neighborhood House is asking anyone with toys to fix themselves or donate to come along.
For more information and/or to get involved in repairing or providing general support, visit Docklands Neighborhood House Facebook Page. •
Photography: Murray Enders