Island’s success with repair cafés inspires Canadian to follow suit

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A CANADIAN man says he wants to introduce a repair café in his home town after being inspired by Jersey’s success with the initiative.

Jim Simmill worked in the restorative justice sector before retiring and currently volunteers to restore unwanted bikes that he sells at auction.

After reading a story about the Island’s repair café project in the Bailiwick Express ahead of his trip to Jersey in May, Mr Simmill said there was ‘potential’ for a similar scheme in the town of Chilliwack – a community in British Columbia of around 100,000 people.

Repair cafés have become popular in recent years. They allow people to gather to have household items fixed so that they can continue to be used. Skilled volunteers can carry out the repairs or help people if they want to try fixing the objects themselves.

Discussing his bike repair work, Mr Simmill said: ‘The bikes come in all sorts of shape of disrepair, and we’ve had some volunteers take a look at the bikes, you know, whether they adjust the brakes or replacing tyres and whatever the case may be.

‘Right across the road from where we have our bikes stored is a seniors’ complex.’

Mr Simmill said after reading the article he thought ‘you know what, this would be a perfect way to sort of emulate what you have in Jersey out here to contact the senior citizens who probably just sit around drinking tea and whatever’.

He explained that he could invite residents from the care home to help repair the bikes, adding that ‘everyone has some skill set with bikes’.

Mr Simmill said that in Chilliwack there was an issue with bikes being abandoned across the town.

He added: ‘The police department in Chilliwack, where I live, come across all these bikes discarded along the road. People steal them.’

Mr Simmill plans to visit both Jersey and Guernsey next month and hopes to visit a repair café as well as finding out more about the history of the islands.

There are two repair cafés in Jersey – the first of which was founded in St Brelade in 2020, while the second launched in Grouville last year.

School teacher Max Livesey, who volunteers at the repair café, says that the initiative was originally intended to draw Islanders together after ‘a lot of people’ felt isolated during the first Covid lockdown.

This month a third branch of the repair café is due to launch at Janvrin School.

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