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 Sue Abbott, a volunteer at the Ferryside Repair Cafe :

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

I’m Sue Abbott. I volunteer at the Ferryside Repair café which meets on the first Sunday of each month at Calon y Fferi Community Centre. I work with knitted, crochet and other knotted-stringy items. Recently I have also started to upcycle old clothes into woven rugs.

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

Like many people my reasons for volunteering are complex. I love to feel that I am helping people and passing on my skills; I enjoy being part of a caring and sharing community; I really hate waste and the undervaluing of our natural resources; I love a challenging repair problem

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

The café is a wonderfully warm and friendly place to spend a Sunday morning. Volunteers and visitors are all made welcome and chat over the repairs. We share the space with a free community wardrobe run by volunteers from a local Buy Nothing group. This has sparked up so many opportunities for collaboration and upcycling projects. It’s really heartening to see how many people in our small community are willing to embrace less wasteful approaches to their lives.

Q. What is your favourite part of volunteering? 

I absolutely love seeing a treasured, (often handmade) item being brought back to use.….and the cafe serves the best cake!!

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

Each repair has its own challenges. The most difficult are ones where the item has been worn so thin around the holey area that there is little to attach a repair to. Sometimes I have had to unpick and re-knit a section rather than darn it. Doing this in a few hours can be a bit optimistic!

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

The social contact made possible in these few hours each month has a big impact for some people. It has led to new friendship groups and more formal skill-sharing sessions in the village. I think people are surprised by how many others there are locally who share their views and are keen to explore possibilities.

Q. Have you gained any skills from the experience? 

I hadn’t used some of the darning techniques for several years. My Nan taught me to darn when she showed me how to knit socks. “If you make them, you need to be able to repair them!” I also knew in theory how to mend some things but had never had a chance to try these skills out. I’ve definitely improved a lot since I first started to do this. I’ve also recently become a PAT tester…. Just to keep my brain working!

Q. How does the repair café make you feel? 

I get real pleasure from feeling that I can still bring something of value to the community after retiring from full-time work. Keeping active, physically and mentally, is vital. The smile when I restore someone’s favourite jumper stays with me long after they have walked away.

Q. Would you recommend volunteering for Repair Cafe Wales? 

Everyone can offer something to a repair cafe. Some people have practical skills, some are organisers, some can serve amazing refreshments, some lighten up a room by welcoming visitors… so YES volunteering is definitely something I would recommend.