High-street retail expert Mary Portas loves it and BBC’s Repair Shop star Jay Blades said the initiative is something for Stroud to relish.
The drive to ‘make do and mend’ is likely to be dominant as we head into the energy crisis, but at a time when so many of us readily consign anything that’s broken to Horsley tip before ordering a brand new replacement, a nimble-fingered, not-for-profit community enterprise is renewing its calls for local consumers to help support its ingenuity.
From vacuum cleaners, phones and televisions to radios, irons and even refettled kettles, Share and Repair, on Stonehouse’s High Street, is now celebrating four years of tinkering success at its premises.
The combined shop and workshop is open to repair malfunctioning household items for a minimal cost, while anything donated that’s been fixed (and if necessary PAT-tested), is also put up for sale. Fancy a Morphy Richards kettle, good as new, for £10? It’s 50 per cent cheaper than advice from Boris Johnson.
But while Stonehouse has embraced Share and Repair as a valuable new retail asset, founder Jeff Green believes there’s still plenty more to do in his mission to cheat landfill and share new skills.
“With the help of a £10,000 National Lottery grant we were initially in the old Post Office but saw this relocation as being a good idea,” says Jeff, a retired vicar with an engineering background. At a youthful 79, Jeff oversees the Stonehouse wing of a project that also has premises in Gloucester, Cheltenham and Bath.
“Covid knocked us out though and staff shortages followed. We have a great team running things and lots of banter and fun, but the challenge is that with rent, utilities and general running costs it takes £50 per day for the shop in Stonehouse to open,” he explains.
Despite these challenges, Share and Repair remains open to newcomers, with a key emphasis on sharing skills between the fixers. To a casual eye, a visit might offer the impression of organised chaos, but a fail-safe operating system ensures that every job that comes in for repair, Jeff explains, is assigned a number, so that it can be tracked through the repair process and reunited with its owner.
“It’s complex but it works, with reception ensuring numbers stay with the item when booked in and the engineers have a clear pathway from start to end,” he adds.
And the most in-demand items for repairs? “We get anything and everything. A lady came in the other day and asked if we were experts with mending sheers. We said we are now! Most of all though, the demand is strong for vacuum cleaners. Many are donated because people want to go over to cordless designs, but a lot of people can’t afford cordless.”
Such needs typify the crucial work Share and Repair does, says Jeff: “We want to be able to keep offering affordable alternatives to new items and key to that is to have something repaired we can offer. If we can keep our head above water, that’s the challenge.”
And while Share and Repair, if supported by the public with donations of items, aims to be a lifeline for anyone trapped by inflation and energy bills, Jeff says there’s also a key benefit going on behind the scenes.
“For me, the real joy is watching someone struggle with a repair and then finally succeeding. For anyone with a history of experience to share, this is about recycling human skills as much as repairing products!”
For more information go to http://www.shareandrepairstonehouse.com/, call 01453 827860 or visit the shop on 24 High Street, Stonehouse. Opening hours are 10-1 every day, except Monday, when the shop remains open until 4pm (closed Sundays). Share and repair has an AGM coming up soon and welcomes new volunteers.