We have amazing people in the Repair Cafe Wales Family

As part of a series on getting to know our volunteers, we’ve set a series of questions and our amazing volunteers have answered them ‘virtually’ for us.

Next up in the series is John McCrory, a Repair Cafe Wales Board Director and a volunteer at the Splott and Cathays Repair Cafes:

Q. What is your name, which repair café location do you volunteer at and what’s your role / skill? 

I’m John McCrory, one of the founding board directors of Repair Cafe Wales. I also volunteer as a fixer at the Cathays and Splott events, where I (try to) repair mechanical faults and basic electronics.

Q. Why did you decide to volunteer with Repair Cafe Wales? 

I started volunteering as a fixer back in 2017 – before we were even called Repair Cafe Wales! – because I wanted to use my engineering skills to help people, and because it seemed like a way I could have a tangible, positive impact on the environment, as an individual.

Q. What do you like best about the repair café? 

Social problem solving. I really enjoy it when we’ve opened something up to figure out what’s gone wrong and how to fix it, and there are a few of us stood around sharing ideas and helping. Also, when someone brings in an item which has great sentimental value to them, and you are able to fix it; that’s very heart warming.

Q. What is your favourite part of volunteering? 

It’s great to be part of an organisation of volunteers as you know everyone’s involved because they want to be, because they believe in a similar goal or have shared values, and want to help people and/or the planet. You get to connect with people over something positive.

Q. What has been the most challenging item to repair? 

We once had a buzz lightyear toy which had a missing button on the back – it was the button which was meant to make the arm-chop action happen, so it needed to be quite robust. Luckily, some members from the Cardiff University Engineers Without Boarders society were at the event. They measured the dimensions of the button socket, created a CAD model, and 3D printed a new button. The visitor brought the toy back the following month and the button was fitted, much to the delight of the child who owned it.

Q. What do you think the repair café does for the community? 

Repair cafe events, as with most community volunteering groups, do a lot of different things for a lot of different people. Visitors to a repair cafe get to meet other people from their community, gain confidence or skills repairing, save some money on the purchase of a new item, and feel good about helping the environment by reducing their waste.

Q. Have you gained any skills from the experience? 

I’ve learnt a huge amount over the last four and a half years with Repair Cafe Wales. When I started out fixing, I would simply open things up and try and figure out what was wrong from scratch. But the more things you see, the more similarities you see in how they work, so I now have a much better idea about where to look for common problems. I’ve learnt lots more about electronics from working alongside the electrician volunteers, to the point where I can now repair basic electronic items. Then, on the organisational side of things, I’ve learnt about running events, media interactions, funding, board governance, the list goes on.

Q. How does the repair café make you feel? 

Happy, excited, satisfied.

Q. Would you recommend volunteering for Repair Cafe Wales? 

Obviously! It’s a good thing, with good people; come and be a part of it.