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Repair Skills Spotlight: Will’s Story

Will, MPhys MSc - Chief Technician at Cambridge University & and former volunteer Repairer

Repair and reuse can lead to more jobs, especially green jobs, in areas like fixing appliances or selling second-hand items. These jobs help the environment and give people work.

To celebrate International Repair Day (21st October) we were delighted to speak with one of The Wheel's former volunteer Repairers, Will, who went on to get a job as Chief Technician on a Dyson Project at Cambridge University.

1. Why did you volunteer at The Repair Café?

I have always liked taking things apart and understanding how things work. The Wheel's Repair Café seemed like a great way to develop my skills and join the push towards a more sustainable world.

At the time, I was just embarking upon a career change to university teaching technician work, so this was a great free way to build my skills and bolster my CV.

2. What were the most valuable skills and/or experiences you gained from being a Repair Cafe Volunteer?

The range of volunteers at the restart project meant I could ask for help with anything I wasn't sure of. This availability of experts allowed me to develop my skills in laptop repair, simple electrical fault solving and electronic circuit board analysis without having to do a complete course in any of them.

There are many things which I wouldn’t have thought possible to fix without years of training, but a lot of the issues were as simple as a wire had snapped inside, the battery had died or there was a short circuit on the circuit board. And when I saw other repairers tackling these kinds of problems with ease, it really gave me the confidence to give it a go myself.

The Wheel's Repair Café at Canons House, Mitcham

3. How has your experience as a volunteer Repairer helped you with this next stage in your career and personal growth? Any tips, advice or recommendations?

I joined The Wheel's Repair Café in October 2022, and less than 1 year later I was offered a job at Cambridge University as a teaching technician in the engineering department. This was aided by volunteering at the Repair Café and by my involvement in the 'The South London Maker Space’ in Herne Hill, which is a community of makers who group fund a workshop space for a monthly fee. There are 3D printers, a laser cutter, electronics, woodwork and textiles equipment available inside for members to use for their personal projects, and it’s also a great place to meet like-minded people.

I would recommend both of these things to anyone with an interest in improving their technical skills, maybe to aid a career in STEM, help the community, or just for their own enjoyment. Newcomers to the Repair Café could start by shadowing an experienced Repairer, then working alongside them and eventually setting up on a table of their own.

The Wheel wants to bring more "trainee" volunteer Repairers on board who shadow the more experienced Repairers, so we can build a succession of repair skills. Why not give it a go as you never know what doors it can open for you with your career in the future!

If you are interested in volunteering at The Wheel's Repair Café where you can develop your skills alongside repair professionals with years of experience, please get in touch at!

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