Share Portsmouth: Library of Things and Repair Cafe in the Heart of the City

by Issy Walker | Jun 28, 2023 | Stories

Share Portsmouth: Library of Things and Repair Cafe in the Heart of the City
  • Raised £13,235 from 227 supporters
  • +£2,500 Extra funding from Sovereign Thriving Communities Fund
  • To establish a hub for Library of Things and Repair Café in Portsmouth, so the community can save money while also helping the environment

Share Portsmouth is a registered charity aiming to reduce carbon, waste and raw material use through sharing, repairing and re-use, and involves two projects; Repair Cafe Portsmouth, and Portsmouth Library of Things. 

Repair Café Portsmouth allows repairers to share their skills with people who have broken objects that generally aren’t able to be repaired on the high street, and Portsmouth Library of Things helps people to borrow items that they infrequently use; from cake tins to gazebos, drills to waffle makers. Both of these help to reduce waste and carbon, as well as saving people money.

Over the past five years, Share Portsmouth has been running pop-up events across the city and through over 1,600 hours of time volunteered, have prevented 1,445kg of waste and 13,957kg of CO2 emissions going into the environment.

Because of their success and popularity with the community, Share Portsmouth decided they needed a permanent home for their Repair Cafe and Library of Things. After securing a unit in a shopping centre, they needed to raise funds to:

  • Employ a volunteer coordinator to manage their increasing volunteer team
  • Furnish the unit
  • Cover the cost of insurance, utilities and systems, and volunteer expenses
  • Increase marketing resources to spread the word about their initiative
  • Purchase some frequently requested items for their Library of Things

To achieve this, they set up the Portsmouth Library of Things and Repair Cafe Crowdfunder! 

To find out more about their project, we spoke to Clare, one of the Trustees of Share Portsmouth; “We needed to raise funds to employ a Volunteers Coordinator to manage our increasing volunteer team…before the whole project was run by volunteers, and we also wanted to get support from the community that we would be helping.  We’d done research during 2022 and knew that lots of people loved the idea of the project and wanted to be able to borrow items and get more help repairing things, and Crowdfunder was a great tool to be able to use to get more people aware, involved and supporting the concept.”

The crowd rallied around their project, with one supporter commenting; “This is going to be amazing, for the city and for the planet!”

Another commented; “This is a fantastic initiative the city needs it, we all need it. Good luck and massive pat on the back to all the volunteers that work so hard to make these things happen in Portsmouth.”

In the end, Share Portsmouth reached their initial target and went on to raise £13,235 from 227 members of the community. This included £2,500 from the Sovereign Thriving Communities fund.

We asked Clare what impact the +Extra funding has had on their campaign. She told us; “It has allowed us to get started quicker and enabled us to remove financial barriers for those impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.  Many people in our city live in rented accommodation and don’t have the space or funds to buy tools for jobs that improve their lives.  People are able to become a member of the library for as little as £1 for the year, and there are suggested donations for borrowing items a week at a time, but we don’t want lack of finances to be a barrier to anyone who needs a tool and can’t afford it, so people can contribute to the community in different ways e.g. volunteering or helping spread the word. We really appreciate Sovereign Housing’s belief in us and their support to help us make a greater impact in our community.”

Clare also said; “Crowdfunding helped us to open Portsmouth’s first Library of Things and expand our Repair Café which had been running as a monthly pop up for 5 years.  Our main indoor shopping centre has given us a unit to use, which has brilliant footfall and means that more people in the city know about us.  In the first month of opening our doors we’ve had over 400 people come in to find out more about what we do.”  

“The Library of Things is all about helping our local community save money, carbon and space by borrowing rather than buying objects that they use infrequently.  We’ve already had people in to borrow lawnmowers, drills, carpet cleaners and more.  People can also bring in their broken things and sit with our amazing volunteer team to see if they can repair the items, saving money and reducing waste and carbon.  The hub is now open for 4 sessions a week, so we have been able to help lots of more people with repairing and sharing.”

After such a successful experience of crowdfunding, and receiving the +Extra funding from Sovereign Housing, we asked Clare for her top crowdfunding tips:

“Make a plan before you go live on how to keep up social media content throughout your live period.  Contact local radio stations and press to get coverage.  Contact large businesses in the area and see if you can get details included in staff internal emails.  Collect some great rewards that fit with the type of people that you think will donate so they can’t help but get involved.  And don’t think it will be an easy way to get money…it’s hard work and you need to stay on it.  And don’t forget to apply for extra funding…it gives a great boost to the campaign and shows the local community that it’s a project worth investing in. ”

Feeling inspired? Find out if you could get up to £10,000 from the Sovereign Thriving Communities Fund!

All photo credits: Mark A Phillips

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