Pennenfeld Anyone who has problems with their technical equipment could come to Frank Wilbertz and his colleagues at the Repaircafé. But because of Corona, this is not possible at the moment. That is why Wilbertz now offers his help online.
The Repaircafé of the Pennenfeld Neighbourhood Management usually thrives on meetings and participation. According to Frank Wilbertz from the neighbourhood management, this was no longer possible in its original form after the first shutdown in March. For the first time, the repair experts met with people seeking advice virtually on the internet.
As a rule, the repair café is open on site at the neighbourhood meeting place every third Friday of the month from 3 pm to 5 pm. "People come to us with their devices and receive support in repairing them," Wilbertz explains the concept. The focus is on sustainability, environmental protection, the exchange of practical knowledge and togetherness. Before the pandemic hit Germany, the guests and their helpers enjoyed coffee and cake while chatting with experts. "That's how it was until March, then it was over for a while," Wilbertz reports. "In August, we reopened the Repair Café for the first time. Before that, we had equipped individual places with partitions and Plexiglas panes." However, even in this form the café could only take place twice, then the shutdown came again.
But the project's creators did not give up. Like many other associations, they were looking for a good way to transfer their activities to the internet. One of the volunteers had discovered how such a project could work in a similar project in northern Germany. For practice, they dialled in to one of their colleagues' events, then set up their own programme at short notice. So on Friday, Wilbertz and the volunteers joined a virtual online repair café for the first time using the internet meeting tool Jitsi Meet.
"A customer had a printer on which the print image was no longer completely clean," Wilbertz describes a problem transmitted virtually. The helpers had the person seeking advice show and demonstrate the printer via mobile phone in order to isolate the problem more precisely. "The man was able to get advice on how the problem could perhaps be solved," reports the neighbourhood management member. The organiser of the café is confident that technical problems such as defects in electrical mouth wash devices, toys, bicycles or furniture can also be solved together in this way with a little good will.
Wilbertz suspects that this variant of the offer will certainly take some getting used to. That is why he offers to arrange digital meetings with the visitors for a trial run in the run-up to the next Repair Café date. "I'll send a link, then you can practise handling it once. Then visiting the repair café will no longer be a problem," he describes the procedure. His fellow campaigners and repair experts Thilo Jülich and Walter Jaksch confirmed the „getting used to“-effect: "It's not common, but with a bit of practice it can be done digitally," Jaksch thinks. In any case, the attempt and the result are a plus, especially if successful, says his colleague Jülich: "It's a pleasant feeling when the repair is finished and the thing is working again.“
The next Repair Café will take place at the usual time on the third Friday of the month, 15 January 2021, between 3 and 5 pm. Anyone who is unsure and would like to practise using a virtual meeting beforehand can arrange for advice and a rehearsal appointment with Frank Wilbertz via email@example.com.
Original text: Petra Reuter
Translation: Mareike Graepel