‘I will fix your toaster… for free'

New project aims to break through the 'poverty premium' with mending work

Thursday, 10th February — By Dan Carrier

pics2022feb10 Image 2022-02-10 at 10.53.51 (6)

Max Wakefield is setting up The Fixing Factory

A TRAILBLAZING scheme to fix broken household goods for free is heading to a high street near you.

The Fixing Factory, set up by Camden Town-based eco-charity Possible, is due to be launched in the spring.

It will offer expert advice to mend electrical equipment and household goods at no cost – and also show you basic repair skills.

The charity was born from the 10:10 campaign, which helped people reduce their carbon footprint by 10 per cent in 2010.

Based in Delancey Street, Possible have won a National Lottery grant to establish the Fixing Factory and are now searching for high street premises from which they can run the project.

Possible’s chief executive Max Wakefield told the New Journal: “If we do not get people involved in the transition from carbon it will not happen fast enough.

“People think acting is scary and complicated, and many want to get involved but aren’t sure how. We help projects and campaigns show how we are not powerless.”

This includes projects ranging from restoring lost hedgerows and planting trees to more high-tech work.

The factory will see people drop in with broken items – kettles, toasters, computers and heaters, for example – which skilled technicians will fix. It will also host workshops to teach visitors how they can mend and repair things themselves. Mr Wakefield said the permanent factory would build on one-off gadget-repair events taking place in community centres and cafes, which have proved popular.

He said: “On a wider note, it is a market failure that it is cheaper to replace a broken kettle or toaster, for example, than get it fixed. Many people are stuck in a cycle known as the ‘poverty premium’. They are forced to buying household goods that are cheap – and therefore they break easily – so they have to be frequently replaced. It ends up costing more in numerous ways. A fixing factory is one way to tackle the issue. It prevents waste in the physical environment and avoids new carbon emissions being produced.”

Possible is also currently looking for a project manager to oversee the Fixing Factory – the deadline to apply is Monday.

Currently, mass-produced goods can have a limited shelf life with parts designed to be obsolete over time – fuelling demand for new, cheap replacements, Mr Wakefield said, adding: “Product standards are really important – and they are not good enough. We have seen some progress with energy use, with manufacturers legally bound to higher standards.

“It shows what can be done. There are also legal issues with guarantees that need to be considered. If you try to fix something it will invalidate the warranty. We should be able to fix things when they go wrong – or take them to an expert who can.”

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