Repair Cafe to open at UWE Bristol's School of Engineering

Media Relations Team, 26 September 2023

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Repair cafe sewing machine

UWE Bristol’s first ever repair café launches in October, offering students, staff and members of the public the chance to have their broken items fixed for free at the university’s Frenchay campus.

The initiative will be run by students and community repair volunteers and will be held every second Wednesday of the month between 12:15 – 1.45pm in the Atrium of the School of Engineering (Z Block).

The repair café has been launched thanks to MAKERS funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Items that can be repaired may include electricals and small appliances, clothes, and anything that can be glued, soldered, or stitched.

Volunteer repairers of electrical and electronic items will receive guidance and support from the School of Engineering’s skilled technicians, ensuring all repairs are done in a safe manner and to a high standard.

Upcoming dates are:

  • 11 October 2023
  • 8 November 2023
  • 13 December 2023
  • 10 January 2024
  • 14 February 2024
  • 13 March 2024
  • 10 April 2024

The MAKERS project - Making And Knowledge Exchange for Repair and Sustainability - aims to improve representation and belonging in engineering for women and people from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic groups, alongside those from underrepresented backgrounds.

The project will create a student community of making and repair and further build on the links to the wider Bristol community repair movement, including with SPARKS Bristol, Eastville Repair Café, plus ongoing work with young community members from St Pauls and previous UWE Bristol STEM partnership projects in the city.

Grant winner, Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, UWE Bristol Associate Professor for Engineering in Society, said: “Our Maker projects have been developed with communities to meet their needs and solve local problems. We are working on citizen sensor repairs with Baggator in Easton, urban food growing with The Old Library in Eastville, and inclusive urban planning and design with Bridging Histories in St Pauls. We will now link up these community experts with our students to solve local problems together.

“The repair café offers our diverse students the opportunity to gain practical skills and informal mentoring by working alongside inter-generational community members, as well as making a difference to the climate and ecological emergency. Every year, we throw away huge amounts, even items which have very little wrong with them, which could easily be used again after a simple repair. As well as being better for the environment and promoting sustainability, this scheme will save people money, share repair skills that are being lost, and bring the local community together.”

The UWE Bristol MAKERS project is designed to give students an increased sense of belonging and for them to grow more passionate about pursuing an engineering career.

The Royal Academy of Engineering awarded nearly £90,000 to the project from its Diversity Impact Programme, which aims to inspire change within university engineering departments. The programme provides funding for schemes that transform the experiences of engineering students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

UWE Bristol recently became the first university in the UK to introduce a free course about the climate emergency for all students and has a Sustainability Hub at its Frenchay Campus which provides a permanent swap, share, repair and reuse facility.

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