Some of our volunteers

Some of our volunteers

25 April 2022

April 2022 Short Staffed

 It was a week before Easter. Many of our volunteers had family commitments, or were unwell and some had tested positive for Covid. We self-tested before the event. With the aid of one new Electronics volunteer, two new sewing volunteers, and two Mechanical volunteers who had only performed at one or two previous events, we had just enough repairers. But we did not have enough organisational volunteers.

In the café area, we had no experienced ‘Meet-and-Greeters’. One of our sewing volunteers who had resigned due to other commitments, came back to help in an unfamiliar role and our Technical Triage volunteer Rob, had to help people to fill in forms. The wife of a new repairer offered to help too and somehow, we had just enough. We usually have about 7 in the meet-and-greet/ Triage roles.

We usually had 4 Team Runners. We had 2. Bernie and Judy are very experienced in looking after teams of volunteers and allocating the jobs and they coped admirably. On Reception, we usually have one person to check the forms and complete missing details and one to receive donations by cash or card and record items taken for home repair by our repairers. Jane did it all.

What a team!

Luckily, we had a similar reduction in the number of visitors and thus repairs.

A memorable repair was that of Kota the animatronic triceratops, brought in by our good friend Nigel of the Palm House. The battery contacts were very rusty. Nigel was really hoping that we could get Kota working again for Dinosaur week at the Palm House in early May. John managed to de-rust them and Kota lives to entertain children again. 

People often ask me if I watch the ‘Repair Shop’ on TV. I don’t. It is fascinating to see the end result of a restoration but so frustrating that they do not focus on the techniques, tools and materials used. They seem to focus on the emotional rection of the visitor when they see the finished item, with a long pause as they wait for the tears, We had a ‘Repair Shop moment’ when a musical box was repaired. It just needed a good clean. The lady owner told us that it was the first gift that her father ever bought for her mother. He had passed away last year. This was the first time she had heard it play in many years. As her husband gave her shoulders a squeeze and I heard the tremor in her voice, a tingle went up my spine. 

We had a few failed repairs that were due to planned obsolescence. It was impossible to open the item without breaking the outer cover. The ‘Right to Repair’ only applies to a small category of appliances at the moment. Hopefully, in future, it will be extended to cover small domestic appliances. We enter the data from our forms into the RepairMonitor system used by Repair Cafes all over the world. Analysis of that data gives the insight needed to lobby manufacturers to improve repairability. We do need Model number and age of the item on the forms to help with that please. 😊

 Ros Dean 


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