The team at Mernda Community House celebrates a $45,000 Sustainability Victoria grant to open a repair cafe.

By Aleksandra Bliszczyk

Mernda Community House plans to open a repair cafe after receiving a Sustainability Victoria grant to promote low-waste living.

The $45,000 grant from the Recycling Victoria Communities Fund will create a new project manager position at the house to organise monthly sessions where a group of skilled volunteers will help people in the community fix their broken goods.

The grants were allocated to initiatives that aim to reduce waste generation, reduce plastic pollution and rubbish dumping, and divert materials from landfill.

“We applied because we thought it would be a wonderful program for our local community of Mernda and surrounds,” Mernda Community House coordinator Paras Christou said.

“There are no other repair cafes in the City of Whittlesea and we thought that we could develop and deliver a program to do a couple of things, one, reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill, and also to see if we could make a change in people’s habits when it comes to throwing things away.”

Repair cafes work differently to repair shops; people book an appointment, bring in a broken item and then a skilled volunteer will help them fix it.

“Repair cafes operate on a model where the person bringing in something that needs repairing stays with the repairer while the item’s getting fixed, and by doing that they’re also learning about how that item works or how it can be repaired, so it’s a lovely exchange,” Ms Christou said.

“We recognise that not everything is made to be easily repaired, but we also recognise that skills needed to repair things are dying. Once upon a time those skills were passed down.”

She also hoped the cafe would encourage people to reevaluate their consumer habits and invest in longer lasting items and maintaining them, rather than instinctively replacing them.

“We know people are happy to send their goods to opportunity shops, but that still means that people are buying new things to replace those items,” she said.

The cafe aims to offer wooden goods and furniture repairs, bike repairs, repairs for smaller electrical items, textile repairs and ceramic repairs.

The house is currently seeking skilled volunteers who would like to join the cafe, share a waste-reducing ethos, and want to engage with members of their community.

Anyone interested can contact Paras at Mernda Community House on 0475 454 133.

The repair cafe will run at the house, at 2 Heals Rd, Mernda, monthly on weekends. The launch is slated for the end of this year.