SATCoL’s First Repair Café

Posted: 20.02.24

Salvation Army hosts Repair Café
in new Gorseinon charity store

Interior of the repair café where people are fixing various gadgets and furniture pieces brought from members of the local community

The Salvation Army’s 10,000 sq ft donation centre in Gorseinon, Swansea, opened its doors on 19th December.

The donation centre is a large format, new concept charity store that has community, sustainability and affordability at its heart. The Gorseinon store is the 42nd of its kind to be opened by the charity in the UK and has seen huge success since its first day.

Karina Hare is part of the team who, along with the donation centre’s Manager Gareth Carnegie and his team, helped get the store set-up and ready for opening day.

Having started work with the charity as a shop manager in 2010 and then opening Barnsley donation centre in 2020, Karina moved into a development role with Salvation Army Trading Company, the trading arm that operates the stores on behalf of the charity. Karina knows the positive impact these stores have on the community and with the opening of Gorseinon she wanted to fulfil one of the long-standing ambitions held by her and her colleagues.

Karina explains: “The concept of reuse, recycle and repair is a core part of our work. With the donation centres, we’ve always had an ambition to use the space and create links with the community – the idea of a Repair Café was something that really caught my interest.”

Inspired by Repair Café Wales and a visit to two other Repair Cafés held at St Catherine’s Church in Gorseinon and The Environment Centre in Swansea, Karina’s enthusiasm was sparked even further.

Karina said: “St Catherine's Church in Gorseinon kindly showed me around and several of the volunteers there said that they would be more than happy to come and support us by volunteering at our first event. This was great news as one of my main concerns had been how I was going to pull together a team of volunteers with specific skillsets.”

Karina continued: “The Environment Centre team gave me a big list of hints and tips, ‘dos and don’ts’ as well as four more willing volunteers. I was a little worried that the facilitator, Chris, would think I was ‘touting’ his team, but he laughed when I sheepishly suggested that this was not the intention. He put my mind at ease by telling me that lots of the ‘repairer volunteers’ already volunteer at a couple of places – many of them said that they loved the challenge of a complex repair and see it as a fun puzzle to solve. I too, noticed that a tricky repair often prompted more conversation and a teamwork strategy… they really don’t like to be defeated!”

The first Repair Café at Salvation Army Gorseinon was a huge success with several items being repaired including a mini Vespa, speakers and a coffee machine.

Karina shared: “One of the volunteers, Tech Repairer Kyle, worked out that by fixing 10 items on the day, we diverted around 52kg worth of items from disposal which translates, incredibly, to a positive environmental impact of 276 kg of carbon emissions avoided*.”

Gareth Carnegie, Gorseinon donation centre manager, said: “It was an honour to host our store’s first Repair Café. It was brilliant to meet an amazing group of new volunteers and to see all the items saved from disposal. We have a community area within our store and my vision is to make this adaptable space available to local charities and groups. The Repair Café was just the beginning and I hope to host many more community-based projects like this in the very near future to support people around Penllergaer and Gorseinon and the wider Swansea areas too.”

Find out more on the Gorseinon donation centre Facebook page:

* based on average weights/Repair Café Wales methodology.