Our Share and Repair Network Coordinator Emma, visited the world renowned Fixfest in Brussels this year.
Fixfest is a regular global gathering of repairers, activists, policy-makers, thinkers, educators and companies from all over the world, and acts as a chance for the repair community to exchange ideas, stories, experiences and skills. The 2022 programme focused on four core themes: Repair in our communities, the Right to Repair, Repair and education and How to repair.
Emma was delighted to go to represent the Share and Repair Network and the Scottish repairing sector, as well as network and learn from the global repair community.
Read Emma’s blog below to learn about her experience:
‘I had the privilege of being able to attend this year’s Fixfest in Brussels, a global gathering for community repair organised by the Restart Project, in close collaboration with the European Right to Repair Campaign, and Belgian partners Repair Together and Repair & Share.
There was a packed programme, starting with an incredibly inspirational keynote speech by Matthew Dukson, Founder of Community Creativity 4 Development, a repair movement set up in a Ugandan refugee camp. Matthew showed us how he set up the repair café with barely a handful of tools and a whole lot of enthusiasm. It was particularly interesting to hear about how they have engaged lots of women who were initially apprehensive. Matthew also described how coming together over the events brought people together from different tribes who were in conflict with each other in their home countries before coming to Uganda with the shared goal of repair. Really inspirational stuff!
It was really fun to see Repair Together’s Repair Café Mobile. It’s a trailer that can be towed to more remote locations and opened up to have all the space, equipment and even teas and coffees you need to have a repair café anywhere you like!’
‘I learned loads about different policies that promote repair in different countries, such as a voucher system in Austria which helps people with the cost of repairing their items so they’re more likely to get them fixed rather than replacing them, or the French ‘repairability’ index which gives consumers more information on the ‘repairability’ of the items they’d like to buy, both encouraging consumer to consider repair and incentivising manufacturers to design items with ‘repairability’ in mind.
I met the lovely Jean-Sébastien from Insertech in Montreal. He told me about the great work they’re doing to help young people who are struggling to stay in school to get involved in IT repair and teaching IT skills to adults. I was delighted that when I asked Jean-Sébastien how he got involved in the project he explained that he was one of those young people, now working for the organisation 16 years later. It was great to see a perfect example of the potential of the work our projects are doing to help young people into careers.
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to sit on a panel with representatives from Uganda, Argentina and India, talking about networks in our respective countries. I loved hearing about the different challenges each had and creative solutions they found to make community repair work in their own contexts. It was a great opportunity to spotlight some of our members to show how the repair community in Scotland is so unique.’
‘Other conversations at Fixfest were about how to set up repair projects on the high street with some excellent examples from other areas of the UK, two that also comprised of a library of things: Share and Repair in Bath and a partnership between Repair Café Wales and Benthyg Cymru, RE:MAKE Newport, and the Fixing Factory in Camden. There was discussion about how to make the repair movement more inclusive both within communities and to other countries that weren’t represented at the gathering. A workshop on data was great for understanding how other groups get around issues of gathering data across groups of repair projects in a way that suits all the groups.’
The Share and Repair Network is very proud to be able to be represented on the global stage in this way, and engage and learn from other repair schemes and strategies from across the globe. If you are interested in learning more about what happened at this year’s Fixfest, many of the discussions from the event were recorded and will be made available online. Keep an eye on the Fixfest website to stay up to date.