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Volunteers from Lover Repair Cafe made a special commitment to the local community during the pandemic. They ‘hung in there’ as a temporary remote Repair Cafe and raised almost £6,000 in donations to support staff at their local hospital. Want to know what they did and how they went about it? Read the report below that we received from Lover Repair Cafe.

Lockdown story of Lover Repair Cafe

Lover is a small village eight miles south of Salisbury. In March 2019 a small group of retired people with many varying craft skills set up a Repair Cafe meeting every Wednesday morning offering repair help to the local community. This very quickly grew to a membership of 26 in the team serving an area of approximately twenty miles radius.

And then in March 2020 along came ‘Lock-down’. This really frustrated the management team as we were prohibited from using the local Village Hall and also from gathering together for a coffee, a chat and communal repairs. There was a real determination to continue the helpful service, especially for the many vulnerable senior citizens in the locality.

Continuing the service

So, having carefully checked the Government Covid Regulations and the available resources, we came up with the idea of a ‘REMOTE REPAIR CENTRE’ as a temporary means of continuing the service. In fact, we were prepared to offer the service on both the Wednesday and Friday mornings – after all, where else were we going to go during Covid?

We were in the fortunate position of having a member of the group living nearly opposite the Village Hall. He also had a double garage in his front garden with lots of room on his driveway for access. On checking with the helpers it was found that we had six who were willing and able to ‘work from home’ along with two more (an electrician & joiner) plus an administrator/treasurer, all duly masked up & Covid Aware. And so we were all set to continue the operations. Following a lot of publicity we soon found that people could and would walk by and drop off items and also arrange to drive by and drop off their repair works.

One of the volunteers in Lover has a double garage in his front garden with lots of room on his driveway for access.

In fact very quickly we became a drop-off & pick-up service, as the idea was that we simply took in and registered an item – farmed it out for repair – phoned the client when ready for pick-up.

We may fix it!

Fortunately for us, word got around and we have now gained more helpers with specialist skills and improved our ability to provide answers any queries. Our outstanding concern is locating a weaver for chair repairs.

As can be imagined various ‘problems’ cropped up along the way, but our motto is “Do not Bin it – We may Fix it”. With that in mind, we have always been able to adjust our delivery to fit in with requirements. For instance, how do you use a garage in the middle of winter? You go to a local marquee manufacturer and he makes you a fantastic PVC awning that slides & clips on the front on the garage. How do you overcome the heating problem? You purchase a gas fired heater. How do you overcome IT issues? Simply get our own engineers to devise a method of operating. How do you resolve Covid regs? We continually monitored and adjusted our procedures in accordance with requirements, in fact at the lowest point we simply had one operative on duty receiving & passing on the jobs.

Mental health treatment

As you may well imagine our clients were very pleased to have this service which only cost the value of materials used and if they wished a donation to a local charity. It was not long before someone mentioned their concern for the hospital staff dealing with Covid patients. As a result we checked with the NHS Hospital at Salisbury to see if we could donate specifically to support ALL their NHS Staff. They agreed to our proposal and incredibly in the last twelve months we have been able to provide £5,500 that is going to support them in the way of mental health treatment, rest room facilities, special treats etc.

Adventure

As for the work that has come in, recently we broke our one day record by receiving 23 jobs in a day. Our works cover every sphere of activity from electrics to electronics, ceramics to clocks, bikes to brass-work, mowers to metal-work etc.. We are very pleased that at present we are running at a 93% success rate.

Our story has no ending, we simply await the next exciting episode, the adventure is in the overcoming.

Repair Cafe volunteers are problem solvers – and so it is in Lover too! 

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