Can Adult Learning Wales fix it? Yes they can!

19-December-2023
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Adult Learning Wales are delighted to announce the new ‘Port Talbot Repair Cafe’ Branch in partnership with Repair Cafe Wales. The news was presented on Thursday 7 December 2023 at a ‘Grand Opening’ Launch event at Port Talbot’s Addison Road Workshops to special guests including members from the local community, the Mayor of Neath Port Talbot, Sioned Williams MS, local councillors, and representatives from Adult Learning Wales, Repair Cafe Wales and IUNGO Solutions.

During the event, the guests were treated to a range of presentations by Kathryn Robson (CEO of Adult Learning Wales), John Graystone (Chair of Adult Learning Wales), John McCrory (Founding Director of Repair Cafe Wales), Jessica Leigh Jones MBE (CEO of IUNGO Solutions) and Rhys Clement (Repair Cafe Co-ordinator for Adult Learning Wales). The event was hosted by Beth John, Adult Learning Wales Regional Manager for the South West and Mid Wales. The presentations varied from the partnerships between Adult Learning Wales, Repair Cafe Wales and IUNGO Solutions, how the Port Talbot Repair Cafe came about, the history of Repair Cafe Wales, and what the exciting future holds for the ‘Port Talbot Repair Café’ Branch. There was also a short certificate presentation, where learners received their certificates for the successful completion of 3 Agored Cymru qualifications in the Use of Tools, Mentimetres and Social Entrepreneurship, as part of an Upskilling Course, specially designed and delivered as a bespoke course for Adult Learning Wales by IUNGO Solutions.

The new Port Talbot Repair Cafe will open its doors to the public at the Addison Road Workshops on Saturday 13 January from 10am to 12pm under the guidance of Adult Learning Wales’ Rhys Clement, who is also the newly appointed chair of ‘Port Talbot Repair Cafe’ Branch. The Repair Cafe will continue to meet on the second Saturday of each month going forward. The Volunteer Fixers will look to repair broken household electricals such as kettles, toasters, lamps, sewing machines and so on, to jewellery, small clothing repair, bicycles, PC advice/support and general items. There is no fee to do this, but donations are welcome to support the continuous running of the Repair Cafe. 

Rhys Clement said, “It was very encouraging and positive to see the amount of people who came to the launch of the ‘Port Talbot Repair Café’ Branch, and the support and positive comments that transpired were incredible. There are so many people that have been instrumental in the construction of this new Branch. I am honoured and thrilled to be the first Chair of this newly formed ‘Branch’ and I look forward to seeing how we can provide a space for the community to get their broken items repaired. The ‘Port Talbot Repair Café’ Branch isn’t only a place to repair items, it’s a place to bring the community spirit to Sandfields and the wider area of Port Talbot, enabling the local community to come together to help one and other in many ways. The aim of the ‘Branch’ is for it to be from the community for the community.”

“This project has been in the pipeline for almost a year and to see it finally established in fantastic. We hope we can serve the community of Sandfields and Port Talbot for many years through reducing waste, saving money and most importantly bringing the local community together. Our doors will open for the first time on Saturday 13th January 2024 at 10am. Myself and the team will be waiting with a warm welcome and a friendly face, so why not pop along with an item to be fixed, or come and have a chat with the voluntary team and see how the repair cafe works? The whole team are looking forward and eager to start this wonderful project.”

The ‘Port Talbot Repair Cafe’ Branch is also looking for additional Volunteer Fixers and Volunteer Hosts to help with fixing and advising on the broken items, and to help out with the running of the Repair Cafe on the day. The time commitment is only a couple of hours every month and the volunteers will be doing their bit to help reduce waste, share skills, and strengthen their local community.

Beth John added, “We are absolutely thrilled that the first ‘Branch’ to be formed since the inception of ALW in November 2016, sits within the SW&Mid Region, and that it is going to serve so many people in the Port Talbot area. The Repair Cafe has been in the making for the past year, and during that period, ALW has worked closely with IUNGO Solutions and Repair Cafe Wales, to ensure that it has every chance in succeeding. IUNGO Solutions has created a fantastic bespoke course for people wishing to upskill in order to become Volunteers at the Cafe, and Repair Cafe Wales, as the umbrella organisation, has provided significant support and guidance to us in the setting up of the Cafe. ALW sees many opportunities for further collaboration between itself and both of the organisations, going forward. It has been a delight to be part of this set-up, and as a Region, we wish Rhys Clement all the very best in his role as the 1st Chair of the Branch.”

The ‘Port Talbot Repair Cafe’ Branch is part of a wider network of Repair Cafe’s that are supported by Repair Cafe Wales. Repair Cafe Wales is a Community Interest Company that facilitates pop-up events, offering training and advice to encourage communities that want to work towards a more Circular Economy, creating a culture of repair and re-use, directly addressing the ever-growing emergency of unsustainable growth in landfill and waste. Repair Cafe Wales works with local communities to influence standards for goods and government policy, collecting data on the items repaired to help inform policy decisions that promote a greener, more sustainable world.

John McCrory (Founding Director of Repair Cafe Wales) further said, “We’re really excited for the opening of the new Port Talbot Repair Cafe, and delighted at the supportive role that Adult Learning Wales are taking, which should ensure the event’s success for years to come. We also want to say a huge thank you to Rhys Clement, who’s taken on the responsibility of organising the event. Not only do repair cafes reduce waste, but getting something fixed is also a great way to save money, so it’s well worth going along to the event if something in your house breaks.”

The ‘Port Talbot Repair Cafe’ Branch, which will open to the public on Saturday 13th January 2024 between 10am – 12pm at Units 10 & 11 at the Addison Road Workshops, Port Talbot SA12 6HZ. If you would like to get involved or would like to find out more, email the Port Talbot Repair Cafe Co-ordinator and Director, Rhys Clement – repaircafeporttalbot@gmail.com 

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