Bring & Fix events are intergenerational community fairs where people share their skills and knowledge freely with each other to 'fix' problems (material and non-material), recycle and reduce waste. The aim is to stimulate sustainability and contribute towards generating resilient and empowered communities in the locality.
Picture courtesy of Rushey Green Time Bank
- Holding organisation: Rushey Green Time Bank
- Status: Community Event
- Financing: No core funding
- People involved in the project: Local Community (organisers, volunteers, residents)
- Public Partners: n/a
- Private partners: n/a
- Creation Date: 2010
- Contact Persons: bringandfix à rgtb.org.uk
- Main project links: 1. http://rgtb.org.uk/bringnfix/index.html; 2. http://newstartmag.co.uk/features/bring-fix/; and 3. http://www.londonsdc.org/londonleaders/default.aspx
The key drivers for 'Bring & Fix' include the economic situation we're currently facing as well as the need to reduce waste by recyling, reusing and repairing items rather than throwing them away. It aims to connect generations and build sustainable communities through recognisable events that can be repeated in one’s locality or community on a regular basis.
It is also a celebration of the talent and skills in our neighbourhoods that are often overlooked or forgotten about. Activities are extremely diverse and can range in kind from gluing, screwing or putting things back together, sewing and repairing garments, providing help with IT and digital technologies that younger people can help older people with, fixing bikes, giving or receiving advice on budgeting, gardening, healthcare, cooking, ECO technologies, learning new skills and sharing the know-how that many people have accrued over the years
The local context
Bring & Fix was developed by Philippe Granger, Development Manager of the Rushey Time Bank of Lewisham in the Greater London area. It is an extension of his work in time banking to increase the number of people sharing their skills with each other. "We all have these things around us that niggle us because they need putting back together, mending, gluing, oiling, sewing, cleaning, restoring," he says. "It could be a practical problem and someone needs to show us how to resolve it." Philippe designed Bring & Fix as an intergenerational event to bring together people of all ages in a fun and lively environment to provide solutions for each other in the local community. He was appointed on the London Leaders programme run by The London Sustainable Development Commission to promote his idea which has steadily grown in the UK as groups are using Bring & Fix to stimulate their local community.
The starting point
The concept of Bring & Fix was first presented by its founder, Philippe Granger, to the London Sustainable Development Commission, which agreed to lend its support and help him develop and promote the Bring & Fix initiative throughout London and the UK. An intriguing logo was created to attract enquiries and start conversations. A plan was designed to promote the concept through networks and rally around people who would be interested in the project. Through the existing network of time banks which already involves a wide range of communities, members and interested parties, it is ideal to promote and deliver Bring & Fix. But it can be used by any community where there is a group of commited people that can organise such events.
From experience gained thus far, all the practical steps for organising these events have helped design training workshops (delivered by Rushey Green Time Bank) to equip others to properly plan and run succesful Bring and Fix fairs.
How does it work today?
Bring & Fix is a free public event where people can exchange skills, fix items and share knowledge. It is scalable and low cost; all you really need is the will and enthusiasm of people (organisers, volunteers, local residents) to make it happen, the space to hold it (a community hall, car park, school, etc.) and publicity.
A steering group, planning, promotion and connecting with people in the neighbourhood are key ingredients for success. Any community, group, club, or association can use Bring & Fix to bring their neighbours together: it could be a seasonal celebration for a specific group (women's/youth/community group); it could be run on themes like health, gardening, small repairs, recycling, IT or workshops for job applicants; or it could provide a platform for a fundraising opportunity. Schools can get involved and there are activities for children too. All these factors make Bring & Fix sustainable, useful and highly enjoyable. The beauty and simplicity of Bring & Fix events is that they are cheap to run, can be replicated anywhere and held on a regular basis in any venue.
Participation and Governance
Bring & Fix is a community-organised event where anyone and everyone can be involved, young and old. It is very cheap to run and the main finance required is for publicity. It needs a steering group and the people participating are mostly those living in the community or locality where the Bring & Fix event is being organised. Anyone who wants to organise a Bring & Fix should contact Philippe Granger, whose team will provide support, advice and best practice tips.
Case-study: The people of Westgate Community Hall (Canterbury, U.K.) held the first Bring & Fix in February 2012. The Hall is under the ownership of the Westgate Community Trust, which played a large part in preventing its demolishment. The Hall is a community space in the centre of Canterbury where people of all ages can meet, relax, learn and help each other out. Bring & Fix was organised by the Trust, who were in charge of recruiting volunteers, giving publicity to the event, etc.
Added value of the project and making resources available
Bring & Fix provides a chance for people to come together with their various items, skills or problems/concerns in a place where everything can be fixed or resolved together. Bring & Fix has numerous benefits: it gives space for more volunteering, brings generations together, makes people feel valued, releases the assets and skills that people have and also provides an opportunity for people to learn new skills and exchange ideas.
Through Bring & Fix, it is also possible to change people's behaviours and attitudes towards environmental issues in terms of waste and recycling. It can help people adapt to the difficult (economic and social) crisis situation we're having to face by connecting together and sharing experiences in a relaxed, fun and educational environment. These types of events then are a great opportunity to build community by doing something practical as well as memorable in your neighbourhood.
- Others’ events not as well attended due to very poor planning, not enough lead-time and lack of marketing strategy. Rushey Green Time Bank has designed workshops to explain how to properly plan such events and share best practice;
- Making sure the organisers establish a steering group made of local people at least 2 months before the event;
- Expectations and misunderstandings about the concept: Bring & Fix is not about providing professional or heavy/complicated repairs normally undertaken by traders (unless some - and they are welcome - wish to attend and provide their service free-of-charge on the day!);
- Too much concern about ‘risks’. However, the organisers ought to be insured and carry out a basic risk assessment. These events, if well planned and with a clear explanation that the ‘fixers’ are volunteers that do the best they can and for free, present minimum risks;
- Some 'fixes' can be very popular (e.g. sewing, gluing, maintaining bikes) and tiring due to demand. Best therefore to have a pool of fixers on a rota, taking turns doing the repairs/advice so that the fixers can have a break; and
- Ensuring organisers do not charge an entry fee.
- To scale up the project more widely across communities and cities, but it does need coordination and people who have done it properly in order to train others and keep the concept true to its values.
- Develop an army of ‘fixers’ and developing a dedicated website promoting all the events in advance, providing examples of best practice and enabling people to enlist themselves for potential Bring & Fix events in their locality.
- It has the potential to be a catalyst to start many new Time banks that are coordinated by local people and help generations connect with each other through exchanging skills.
Proposals for future 'Bring & Fix'
- Don’t do it alone, find community activists who are connected to neighbours and know their community well;
- Find local partners to share the vision and help propogate it;
- Collaborate with other groups to share resources and space;
- Design good publicity with photos and quotes from previous Bring and Fix events;
- If there is one, enlist a Time bank that already has a network of people with skills to share; and
- Make sure it is inclusive and that younger people are involved alongside older adults.