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Black Isle Repair Cafe set to mark a milestone at birthday event in Avoch

By Hector MacKenzie

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Euan Naismsith with a fixed toaster.
Euan Naismsith with a fixed toaster.

THE Black Isle Repair Cafe is celebrating its first birthday with an extra special event on Saturday.

A committed group of volunteers, supported by the Black Isle Men’s Shed, Transition Black Isle and the Highland Community Waste Partnership, launched their first ever Repair Cafe in Avoch a year ago and have been going from strength to strength ever since.

It is being held on June 24 in Avoch Community Centre from 1-4pm.

Rose Grant, Black Isle Repair Cafe spokesperson and Transition Black Isle Trustee, said: "Transition Black Isle and the Black Isle Men's Shed have enjoyed collaborating with the Black Isle Repair Cafe and it is our hope for the cafe to have closer ties with other community groups too.

TBI trustee Rose Grant with a mended towel.
TBI trustee Rose Grant with a mended towel.

"Repair and reuse is a hot topic but there is great social value in what we do too. I would encourage everyone to come along and see for themselves."

They’ve been popping up in various locations across the Black Isle each month, inviting folk to bring in items that need repairing including sewing, electrical and digital repairs as well as knife and tool sharpening, general repairs and bike repairs. Their mission is to keep your items in use and out of landfill, helping to contribute to a more circular economy which in turn helps to save money.

Since launching, 210 repairs have been brought in, 137 of these have been fixed successfully with the remainder either being signposted to local professional repairers or with further info on where they can recycle the item.

And it’s not just about the repair on the day, the skilled volunteers are there to help show you how you can fix your own in the future as well so it’s a chance to learn a new skill at the same time.

There has been great feedback from the people who have come along to previous Repair Cafe’s.

“Thank you. Couldn’t find this service locally. Men's shed chap was very helpful and friendly and informative! Showed me how to do it myself too” - Annette Greenfield

“So happy to have my jumper fixed!’ - Mairi Taylor

“Richard was good at explaining what he was doing which was very helpful. Effective knife-sharpening.” - Fran Tilbrook

Poster for Repair Cafe's first birthday celebration.
Poster for Repair Cafe's first birthday celebration.

This event is not only celebrating repair but all things reduce, reuse and recycle. As well as the Repair Cafe itself – make sure to bring along any items you’d like help getting fixed on the day – there will be other stalls and activities for both kids and adults including crafts, printing, composting and more. Other community groups have been keen to get involved with the event including the Fortrose Guides who will be there with their 'Swish and Swap' stall with pre-loved items as well as Avoch Primary, who will be showcasing their fantastic uniform reuse initiative 'Unicycle'."

The Highland Council Waste Awareness Team will also be on hand to talk about all things waste related in Highland.

Of course no birthday celebration would be complete without cake and all donations for repairs and refreshments go back into the Repair Cafe.

The event is supported by Transition Black Isle, one of the 8 organisations which make up the Highland Community Waste Partnership, working together to reduce waste in our communities by changing the way that we all consume. This means using things better, for longer, reducing the impact of waste on our communities and working together to make the most of what we’ve got.

Running for three years, starting Apr 2022, the Partnership is funded by The National Lottery Community Climate Action Fund and is coordinated by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Georgina Massouraki, Partnership Coordinator for the Highland Community Waste Partnership, said: "Repair cafes are a vital part of the circular economy, by helping to extend the life of the items we have, thus diverting them from landfill and also avoiding the environmental and carbon footprint, not to mention the cost, of buying something new. Indeed, 51 per cent of bulky items sent to recycling centres in the UK could have been reused or repaired -what a waste!

“We’re delighted to be celebrating a year of waste reduction through the Black Isle Repair Café and hope that others are inspired by their achievements. We hope to see more people choosing repair going forward and would encourage anyone considering setting up a repair café to get in touch. We're keen to share our learning and increase access to repair opportunities across the Highlands.”

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