We aim to reduce consumption and waste, by sharing and repairing the things we use so we don’t have to buy them.
Along with similar groups across the world, we are working to help solve the climate crisis. This is about our local community doing our bit, inspiring others to do the same and helping everyone live more sustainably.
With all the skills in this city, we think Oxford should be the greenest small city on the planet. With your support, we can make it happen.
SHARE Oxford is a registered charity and Community Action Group in the CAG Oxfordshire Network. We aim to support the global Sharing and Repairing community as best we can, for example as members of the UK Libraries of Things network and with links to many international libraries such as our friends at Circle Centre, Lund.
Ben (Project Coordinator) and Christine (Library Manager) are our two paid members of staff, responsible for looking after our volunteers and ensuring you get a great service when you use the library, visit a repair café or get in touch.
We are very grateful for the support of approximately 30 volunteers, including Caroline, Repair Café Coordinator and her team of repairers, those who support us in the library looking after our customers and Things, and people working behind the scenes on marketing and partnerships.
The volunteer Trustee board
Thank you also to our volunteer board of Trustees, who oversee our operations as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).
Allan Smith, Chair
Allan is a business coach helping people to maximise their potential. He brings many years’ experience on the boards of non-profits such as YMCA. And he shares our passion for helping people live well whilst minimising waste.
During her career in higher education, Philippa drove strategic initiatives to improve the quality of education and associated student services. She is active in the local community’s environmental groups, with an interest in doughnut economics and work on refill / zero-packaging initiatives.
Chris Lewins, Treasurer
Chris has been taking things apart and (sometimes) putting them back together again since before he could walk. In his professional life, he is a R&D engineer working on building new products and has been part of several small and growing businesses during his career. The opportunity to apply his skills to help reduce waste through sharing and repairing was irresistible and so he joined the board of Share at the start of 2022.
Bio coming soon!
The story so far
We emerged from the Oxford Circular Collective to set up the Library of Things and run the Repair Cafés. The first meetings about setting up a Library of Things were in late 2017, and in early 2018 we found a place among the first residents of Makespace Oxford. We started gathering ‘things’ and setting up simple systems to enable us to lend out those things to people in Oxford. In September 2018 we put out a call for people to come to an ‘open meeting’ to help us launch the Library. The people who came to that meeting, and the following one, helped us test and greatly improve the systems, and became the group of volunteers who not only helped run the Library but ran the website, did social media work, supported the Repair Cafés, and even build the shed that we needed to accommodate the ever larger number of ‘things’.
We finally had a public launch of the Library on the 16th of February 2019. Since when the number of members of the Library grew steadily, although not all of them borrowed – which led us to do a small survey in 2020 to find out why. Meanwhile we had some great coverage in an article in the Guardian in April 2019 which boosted our membership and loans, and then we appeared on The One Show between Covid lockdowns in 2020. See In the Media for some excerpts.
In April 2019 we moved into a larger space in Makespace, a space that rapidly filled up and looks like a cave of wonders.
In September that year we had a Zero Waste Extravaganza – clothes swaps, refills, and promotion of the Library. Around Black Friday and christmas we made a fuss about pointless consumerism, offered free borrowing for a week, and trialled a voucher scheme as presents.
Covid of course stopped us lending for a while and we had to take measures to reduce contact with ‘things’, and also between people, which stopped us being able to have people into the office to chat as we always had enjoyed doing – a chance to build relationships, get ideas, and promote our own vision beyond the practicality of lending out items. During this period our links with other Libraries of Things and Tool Libraries provided some much appreciated moral support, and we also shared techniques for coping with Covid.
In November 2019 we had taken part in what we called Share Fest, a meeting in London of the then dozen or so Libraries of Things and Tool Libraries. Most of us found ourselves being asked to help people wanting to set up Libraries with advice, so some of us ran online sessions for groups of people all over the country. We obviously had been at the start of a wave because by mid-2021 there were over 50 Libraries country-wide and more all the time.
After our second AGM, in mid-2020, we finally formalised ourselves as a Community Interest Company. At that point we also began seriously talking about gathering a group of people to act as trustees / directors / advisors. By the end of 2021 that ‘Board’ had met a small number of times.
All of this activity was run by volunteers, as we were reluctant to risk the sustainability of SHARE by taking funding that would not necessarily to repeated; we also wanted to prove that the Library could work in Oxford, and that aim was achieved. However we were given a grant for ‘business development’ by the Network for Social Change in late 2019. And Covid brought us enough government and Council grant funding (compensation for not being able to trade) to enable us pay for a part-time Coordinator, and to allow Maurice to hand over that responsibility.
Maurice recruited Ben as Project Coordinator in autumn 2021 and moved on to new things in March 2022. Since then, the Board decided that we could deliver most impact as a charity, and we were accepted by the Charity Commission, formally becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in November 2022.