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Pascoe Vale Repair Cafe goes from strength to strength

By June 27, 2024No Comments
Stuffed toy being repaired on a sewing machine

In 2022, the Pascoe Vale Repair Café at Sussex Neighbourhood House was trialled four times to see if there was community interest. Fast forward two years and the monthly café now fields 50 to 60 items for fixing each session and a growing band of volunteers.

“Neighbours helping neighbours fix stuff is what it’s all about,” says Joe Cassar, General Manager at the Neighbourhood House.

“For a long time, we’ve held craft circles, basket making and sewing classes focussed on fixing, making and sustainability, so a Repair Café seemed like a natural next step,” says Joe. It’s now one of the Neighbourhood House’s most popular programs.

Throw it away? No way!

The Repair Café opens on the first Sunday of each month from 10am-1pm.

The program runs as a “pay as you feel” model with any funds gained put back into purchasing materials for the program.

According to Joe, there are up to 14 volunteer repairers each session with a huge variety of skills for repair of everything from electrical items, to bikes, toys, tools, and knife sharpening. With the highly active and established Pascoe Vale Hand Spinners and Weavers group and their strong textile focus and the newly established Merri Community Shed closely involved, the Repair Café has most repairs covered.

Residents can bring in everything from a non-functioning lamp to a ride-on toy car.

A memorable recent repair was the Coburg Historical Society’s historic German sewing machine they needed help freeing from its long-locked wooden case. When the Repair Café volunteer locksmith picked their way through the lock to reveal an immaculate circa 1870s sewing machine, the room gasped. “Although not everything is as exciting as that fix-it job,” laughs Joe, “every item fixed gives our volunteers a buzz as it goes out the door.”

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Rachel Currao, the administrative assistant at Sussex Neighbourhood House, says the success of the Repair Café has other benefits, too.

“We’re using this popular café as an opportunity to introduce people to other sustainability-focussed initiatives of the Neighbourhood House,” she says.

“We’ve set up collection points for bread tags, bottle lids and other items. We partner with the Jesuit Social Services Ecological Hub in Brunswick that melts down bottle lids for remaking into plant pots, plastic boards and carabiners.  This is the exciting beginning of a mini circular economy.”

So next time that desk lamp refuses to work don’t bin it, head down to the Repair Café and join the growing community movement to “fix stuff, learn, have a go, reduce landfill and save money,” says Joe.


Website: Pascoe Vale Repair Café at Sussex Neighbourhood House
Address: 7 Prospect Street, Pascoe Vale
Phone: 03 9354 2210

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