Story: Brent Moya
Bit Fix It Café is a volunteer-run computer repair service that offers residents the chance to bring in their faulty laptops and PCs for a free no-obligation repair.
Situated on Verdon Street, the café is run by a team of regular volunteers, including founders Gareth Coleman and Dennis Macdonald. They first crossed paths in 2002 while Gareth worked for a redevelopment trust in computers.Dennis, a retired electrician who holds a university-of-life degree, says he wanted to put something back into the community.
“I’m 71 now. I have lived a life and needed a new challenge, so when I met Gareth and he asked me if I wanted to work with him, my answer was ‘yes’.”
They began providing a service at the advice centre on Gleadless Rd for several months but were then offered the chance to move to Burngreave where they set up Bit Fix It. “We got offered this place with the selling point being that we could leave our computer gear out instead of taking it down,” said Gareth.
Gareth says providing an honest service to the public is at the forefront of his mind, especially in today’s world where repairing a computer can often leave the consumer out of pocket.
“We sidestep a lot of the problems for people, which means they don’t need to take their computer to PC World. It’s very common for people to pay over the odds when it’s only a quick fix. The fact that we provide a free service means people know we have their best interests at heart.”
Dennis says repairing computers is a lot different to repairing a TV or washing machine as computers are the gateway to modern living. “If you want a job or some shopping, you can access this via the internet, which gives you an instant advantage in terms of speed and detail. Computers are rapidly becoming a necessity and those that have access often possess an advantage over others.”
Idris Gadour, who is the group’s treasurer, joined the team in 2004 after meeting at the Ashram Café where he met Gareth and Dennis.
“I was out of work for about a year but had some experience in IT, which I used to get a job through an agency thanks to a written CV from Gareth.”
He has since become a key component in the infrastructure of the team, offering his advice while he also represents a success story.
The team can fix a wide range of computer-related problems such as replacing parts, hardware problems and removing viruses.
Sessions take place every Saturday from 12-3pm at 268 Verdon Street and usually see about six people per week turn up. As to the future, Gareth says,
“There are lots of plans on the horizon; employing a development worker, offering training and increasing opening hours have been discussed; the thing ee all agree on is that we should always continue to provide the local community with a free friendly service.”
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