Charlotte Martyn details the wonderful service that Repair Cafes in Bath offer to local families

Once a favourite toy, gadget or item of clothing is broken, it can also be tempting for parents to hop online and buy a new replacement. But if you’re keen to not only save money but also save the planet by keeping things out of landfill, a family visit to a Repair Café could give your broken items a new lease of life, while also showing the children how easy it is to fix things rather than throw them away.

Since the first Repair Café was set up in Amsterdam in 2009, a network of cafes has sprung up around the world – including in Bath. The idea is wonderfully simple and community-minded: skilled repairers volunteer their time to fix anything that the public might choose to bring along, whether that’s electrical goods, bicycles, clothes, mechanical items or, well, anything that might need mending!

There’s no charge for the service (although donations are welcomed in order to cover costs), and – even better – delicious homemade cakes and a cup of tea are available.

My family have been huge fans of Bath’s Repair Café since they mended our favourite lamp after it had been declared un-fixable by an electrician. Within minutes of taking apart the sliding dimmer switch and giving the innards a quick clean, our volunteer fixer had it working again (and it’s still going strong over a year later). My daughter was fascinated to see the process from start to finish and – given her parents’ distinct lack of electrical know-how – she was able to ask lots of questions about how lights work, all of which were patiently answered by our fixer.

Since that first visit, we’ve returned with a broken lawnmower, peppermill and rucksack, all of which have been spared from the tip thanks to the expertise and community spirit of the Repair Café. And each visit was eagerly anticipated by my daughter, keen to see things taken apart and put back together, and – of course – to see what treats were available at the cake counter.

With Christmas looming, a visit to one of the weekly cafés in and around Bath could be a great opportunity to revive a long-neglected toy so it can be gifted to a younger sibling. And come January, when over-enthusiastic holiday play might see some presents already in need of repair, the cafes are a great way to save possibly pricey purchases from the bin.

For more information on your local Repair Café, visit www.shareandrepair.org.uk, or look on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @sharerepairbath.

Upcoming Repair Café dates:

7 December – Southdown Methodist Church, BA2 1NG

14 December – Weston Hub, BA1 4EH

11 January – Weston Hub, BA1 4EH

18 January – New Oriel Hall, BA1 6RA

25 January – Peasedown Methodist Church, BA2 8DL

1 February – Southdown Methodist Church, BA2 1NG

8 February – Weston Hub, BA1 4EH

15 February – New Oriel Hall, BA1 6RA AND High Littleton

22 February – Peasedown Methodist Church, BA2 8DL