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Support for new repair cafes agreed

08 December 2022

New repair cafes could spring up in Fenland and Huntingdonshire thanks to an innovative new partnership.

In March, Cambridgeshire County Council passed a cross-party motion to commission a report looking at how the authority could support the rollout of new repair cafes and similar reuse and recycling initiatives as part of its wide-ranging environmental agenda.

The now concluded report has shown that repair cafes are prominent in the Cambridge area, with the city seen as a global hub for the volunteer-led scheme, but less so in the north of the county.

Therefore, the council is proposing to partner with Cambridge Carbon Footprint - a registered charity with 15 years’ experience in providing guidance and support on carbon reduction activity which already delivers work around the Cambridgeshire repair network.

The partnership will look to support the roll-out of repair cafes in areas where residents do not have opportunities to access them and will include thousands of pounds of funding from the council.

This will be spent towards:

• employing a part-time repair cafe outreach officer to focus on increasing repair rates and raising awareness of reuse and recycling in Huntingdon and Fenland

• finding two local businesses to partner with

• running two ‘how to organise a repair cafe in your community’ skillshares and training at least eight groups in Huntingdonshire and Fenland

• launching two new repair cafes - one in Huntingdon and one in Fenland, most likely in the town of March

• creating a new repair hub in an area where it will most effectively support nearby cafes.

Repair cafes are community events which match people who need stuff fixed with people who like fixing things.

They help to divert waste from landfill, slash carbon emissions, teach residents new skills and reduce loneliness by bringing people together.

Cllr Tom Sanderson, chair of the council’s Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee, which will decide whether to approve the partnership at its meeting on 8 December, said: “Repair cafes are a great way of saving money and supporting the environment.

“While Cambridge is already well served with repair cafes, this is not the case in Huntingdon and Fenland, so the proposed partnership with Cambridge Carbon Footprint is an excellent way of extending those opportunities to all people in the county.

“This in turn will help support our goal of making Cambridgeshire carbon net zero by 2030 as repair cafes have been shown to decrease the amount of items sent to landfill.”

Cllr Ros Hathorn, who proposed the motion which was passed by the council, said: "I'm thrilled to see the council actively supporting the repair cafes movement today.

"Local government can make a difference to people's lives. Today's vote means that there will be more repair cafes across the county, more items can get repaired and we can all think more carefully about our relationship with stuff."

To find a repair cafe near you, or to find out how you can set up your own one, visit:

Nicole Barton, volunteer and events organiser at Cambridge Carbon Footprint, said: "The Cambridgeshire Repair Café Network have supported a repair revolution around Cambridgeshire and our ambition is to bring a repair cafe to every high street in the county.

"The cafes are organised by volunteers who are passionate about reducing waste and cutting greenhouse gas emissions whilst also preserving and sharing practical skills.

"Because repair cafes are friendly, inspirational places they promote social cohesion and community resilience. They also help people save money – Martin Lewis of listed a visit as his tip number three of 90 in his cost of living crisis tips."

To view the agenda for the meeting, visit the council’s website.

The meeting can be heard back on the council's YouTube page.