Volunteer Profile: Meet Repair Cafe Ballarat Founder Mary Duff
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Volunteer Profile: Meet Repair Cafe Ballarat Founder Mary Duff

Volunteer Profile: Meet Repair Cafe Ballarat Founder Mary Duff

Repair Cafe Ballarat founder Mary Duff worked tirelessly to see her vision for a Repair Cafe in Ballarat come to life.

She shares what drove her to commit the time and effort to get Ballarat on board the worldwide repair movement.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a kiwi living in Ballarat trying to make the world a better place by sharing knowledge. I love making things, mostly from wood or fabric and generally in my own design.

Why did you want to start a Repair Cafe in Ballarat? 

I noticed that many people around me didn’t have basic repair and diy knowledge that I have picked up from growing up on a farm and the crafts I have studied as an adult. I also find it so frustrating to see items discarded when, with a little work, it could be given a new or much longer life.

How did you go about setting it up?

I went to the organisations I thought would be a good fit to support the event and just kept following up. It really helped to have support from the international organisation and other local Repair Cafes who already had events up and running. Good media attention and other incredibly helpful volunteers with drive and persistence was the key.

How have you felt seeing it come to life? 

I have felt so empowered by the experience and grateful for the support. I have learnt so much about communication to the general public and running events too. 

How do you feel about the response to the first few events? 

Excited and so reassured that all that time I spent setting it up hadn’t gone to waste. 

What are the most memorable repairs you have done? 

These would be in my own home because ironically I hadn’t actually been able to sit down and help with repairs at the event. 
A recent memorable fix at home would be a 4 octave lap harp where tension of the strings had peeled the top off it in hot humid weather. I had to very carefully scrape back the old adhesive, replace the glue and repeat the finish. Very rewarding. 

What is your vision/aim for Repair Cafe in the future?

I hope that it can be future proof, meaning that there will always be a high level of volunteer enjoyment (and therefore  commitment) and well as community support.

I can also see other sites opening up, perhaps Buninyong and Creswick or wherever there is interest and need.

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