What if – instead of producing ever more things and creating more trash – we all learned how to repair, mend and maintain what already exists?

A new series of monthly skill-share workshops started on 21 January at Lancaster Sustainability Hub, and it is setting out to get people involved in hands-on learning on how to use resources efficiently: maintaining, preserving, and repairing to avoid throwing things away and consuming unnecessarily. Each workshop will be led by one or two experienced people, but everyone who comes along is invited to share their own skills and experiences.

The first workshop on 21 January focused on bicycle repair and maintenance.

The main person sharing their skills in this session was Yim, a passionate bike mechanic who runs the mobile bicycle repair business Sunflower Cycles. He fixes bicycles at his own workshop and comes to people in his yellow mobile workshop. He also regularly runs the popular bike repair drop-in “Doctor Bike” at Lancaster University campus.

Yim says: “It can be useful to have some knowledge of bike repairs when you are out, either for yourself or to help other people. I think knowledge is wonderful, it gives you confidence and learning can be fun.”

During the two hour session, Yim shared how to do common bicycle maintenance tasks such as removing wheels smoothly and changing brake pads. He introduced the M-Check – a handy way to remember all the parts of a bike which should be checked regularly from the front wheel to the back brakes. Participants got to try out what they learned and get their hands dirty.

Despite it being a short session everyone said they had learnt something new from learning how to fasten a wheel securely to understanding how their brakes work.

Simple advice can really help. One of Yim’s tips was to take photos of how things look or lay parts out in the order they came off. As one participant said, “I’ll be more careful to remember how things look before I take them apart now, I seem to be good at taking things off the bike but can’t remember how to put things back on”.

Another participant said, “I feel much more confident to head out on my bike now and I’ll be making sure to use the M-Check regularly. I’ve been that person who can be out for the day and only notice my wheel was undone at the end!”

Apart from learning useful skills, the workshops are a great way to meet likeminded people in a friendly atmosphere. Yim reflects at the end of the workshop, “I love teaching and I love bicycles and cycling, so the skill-share workshop was perfect for me. Everyone who came is really motivated and enthusiastic and keen to learn and have a go. It’s so satisfying for me to share my knowledge and support people to develop their skills. I also get to meet lovely people and learn new things myself from everyone here.”

Do you have items at home that could be fixed? Or would you like to learn more about saving resources in the home? The next skill-share workshops are:

  • Sunday 18 February: Efficient control of lighting and heating at home or at work.
  • Sunday 17 March: Reviving your laptop by making it run faster, more reliably, and making hardware and software tweaks.
  • Sunday 21 April: Printers and audio-video equipment.
Lancaster Skill-Share Workshops once a month on Sundays

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