VOLUNTEERS are needed to work in a community-centred workshop to fix household goods that would otherwise be thrown away.

Woking Environment Action (WEAct) is hoping to open a Repair Café in the town where local people can bring their goods to be repaired for a donation to expenses.

The Woking Repair Café would be the latest in Surrey, with similar ones in Farnham, Guildford, Godalming and Elmbridge.

Ellen Pirie, the WEAct co-chair, said the group was asked by Woking Borough Council to set up the Repair Cafe after it was approached by Martin Charter, the Farnham Repair Café chairman, who wants to see one in every town in Surrey.

Ellen said the vast majority of repairs are made to light electrical goods, although items such as clothes, bicycles, furniture and clocks are also accepted if there are volunteers with the relevant expertise.

She said WEAct hopes it can find a venue for a possible opening in June during Great Big Green Week but it will need a pool of 12 to 15 volunteers to make repairs and work on the front desk.

“They are the most vital element of this whole thing,” Ellen said.

“If we haven’t got the volunteers we can’t do it.”

She said volunteers get the opportunity to practice skills they might not otherwise use and work in a team while passing on their expertise.

“Typically, the volunteer repairers tend to be older people,” Ellen said.

“There seems to be a community of retired electricians, engineers or people who’ve just been handy fixers who like working as a bit of a team. There’s an element of teaming up together and learning skills from each other.

One man turned up with a model train that hadn’t worked in years, and they managed to get that working so the man could give it to his grandson.”

Ellen Pirie, WEAct co-chair

“One of the key elements of the Repair Café ethos is to try and teach people some skills.

“It’s not a case of come in, dump whatever is broken and disappear – it’s stay and watch and hopefully pick up a few tips on what you might do next time something breaks, so you might have a chance of fixing it yourself,” Ellen said.

The volunteers so far include a sewing expert and Ellen’s husband, Mike Allin, an electronics engineer at McLaren, who is trying to recruit some of his colleagues.

Ellen said the BBC TV series The Repair Shop has helped to generate interest in Repair Cafes which fill a gap left by commercial operations.

“We don’t take business away from people for whom fixing things is their profession. Repair Cafes do things that are uneconomical for repair businesses.”

Ellen said the need for a wide range of skills was shown when someone brought in a faulty robotic vacuum cleaner. The owner suspected there was an electrical fault, but the problem turned out to be mechanical.

Another item was a 40-year-old saucepan with a wobbly handle that the owner used for making jam.

“She wouldn’t have wanted to spend £20 to have it repaired but it was her favourite jam pan and the café fixed it for a small donation.

“One man turned up in Farnham with a model train that hadn’t worked in years, and they managed to get that working so the man could give it to his grandson.”

 If you would like to volunteer, email [email protected] or call 07824 642212.