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Number of Repair Cafés Growing Like Trees in North Wales

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There are 21 Repair Café branches in North Wales currently active, in response to the rise in repair and re-use culture across the country.

The growing enterprise, supported by Welsh Government, now has 84 branches across Wales and serves as an affordable way for local people to have their everyday goods fixed – ranging from electricals and clothing to bikes. The concept also directly addresses the climate and nature emergency and the problem of phasing out the sending of waste to landfill.

Richard Hatton, a retired geochemist, from Zimbabwe, helped open the branch in Conwy with four friends in 2021 in order to help address the climate and environmental emergency. There were no repair cafes in the area at the time.

Richard is one of 15 volunteer ‘fixers’ at the Café; who together, work on a wide variety of goods.

He said:

“I’d like to think of myself as a jack of all trades, willing to have a go at almost anything that comes my way. Although our reception team tend to assign me electrical items like kettles, toasters, mixers and hairdryers, as well as mechanical and wooden items.”

Start-up and ongoing support for Repair Cafes nationally are provided by Repair Café Wales, which is funded by Welsh Government. It is just one of many initiatives supported by Welsh Government in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and the impacts of climate change, while also helping to address the cost-of-living crisis.

Since committing to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, the Welsh Government has been working with organisations and businesses across the country to create a pathway to net zero.

Julie James, Minister for Climate Change said:

“Climate change is a global issue with local consequences for the people of Wales, which is why we need to act now.

“We are already one of the world’s highest domestic recycling nations, with our municipal recycling having exceeded our 64% target. However, by encouraging a re-use and recycle culture when it comes to things like household appliances, bikes, and toys, we can not only further reduce waste but also tackle the climate and nature emergency – this is why the Repair Café concept has the full support of the Welsh Government.

“The Welsh Government is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. We launched our Net Zero Wales plan in 2021, setting out 123 policies and proposals, alongside commitments and action from every corner of Wales. Earlier this year we announced nearly £2bn of targeted green investment that will strengthen Wales’ response to the climate and nature emergencies over the next three years.

“The 2020s must be the decade of action. Reducing emissions more in this decade than in any previous ten-year period will be a challenge and we may need to take difficult choices. If we are to reach our target of becoming net zero by 2050, we now need to work together as part of ‘Team Wales’ and continue to make changes to the way we think, act, behave, consume and travel.

“Over time these changes will reduce our emissions and build-up our resilience to the impact of climate change to safeguard our country and our planet for future generations.”

Richard added:

“I’m grateful for the funds Welsh Government provide our Repair Cafes. We make a real difference to the reduction of waste and landfill, and bring communities together for the greater good. However, there is only so much the Government can do to improve the environment; we need many more people to come on board and actively acknowledge the urgent need for change by reducing their individual greenhouse gas emissions and waste.”

He says people travel as far as 20 miles to visit the Café when it opens. The success of Repair Café Conwy has helped inspire others, with one recently opening in Colwyn Bay.