Tackling Cost of Living with OVADA at Marmalade 2023

On Saturday 15th April, 10am – 3pm, we’re delighted to be taking part in the OVADA Jumble, as part of this year’s Marmalade Festival.

Marmalade is an open collaboration between different individuals and organisations in Oxford, who come together to help shape a better Oxford. The highlight of their calendar is the annual festival where groups explore work shifting power and delivering better services for everyone. It’s worth checking out all the other events they have coming up.

OVADA are are an artist-led arts centre with a warehouse gallery, studios and an engagement programme striving to reflect the community through supporting the delivery of artistic activities that are welcoming for all.

For the Jumble, over the Friday and Saturday, OVADA’s warehouse space will be filled with activities, workshops, and sharing money saving hacks. Waste 2 Taste will deliver a workshop to show us how to make affordable meals, there will be jumble sale stalls, mutual care activities and community discussion, and the SHARE team will be on-hand to help with sharing, with a small team of repairers either able to help with walk-in repairs on the day or point you to a future Repair Café (with our next one happening the day after, on Sunday 16th).

We’re looking forward to learning more ways we can help our community, hopefully supporting people on the day, and we look forward to seeing you there!


Repairing in Retirement. Reflections from a Library of Things Volunteer

Rom Gregory has been volunteering with us for a year and kindly put together these thoughts on her experience at the Library of Things. Thank you for all your help over the last year, Rom!

One of the most surprising things about volunteering at the SHARE Oxford Library of Things is how automatic it’s become for me to buy, sell and give away my own things via Gumtree, Freecycle, Olio and neighbourhood WhatsApp groups. My elderly Mum wants a mobility scooter?  No worries – I source one in hours. I want to pass on some barely worn shoes to someone with less fussy feet?  A day later they are gone.  I need a water container to take camping?  No problem, I can borrow it from the Library of Things for free as a volunteer.

I got interested in the Library of Things when I went with a friend to check out the SHARE Oxford Repair Café a few years ago.  There was Maurice, sitting in a chair it looked like he spent his life in, entirely surrounded by a weird and wonderful collection of strange items.  A unicycle was hanging from the ceiling, a guitar hung at a jaunty angle on the wall, along with tools, tents, mysterious boxes and gardening equipment that could do serious harm in the wrong hands. So, when I retired last year, I got in touch and asked about volunteering.

I’ve been going weekly for a year, doing anything from oiling chainsaws to patching gazebos.  I’ve especially enjoyed persuading a leaky carpet cleaner to stop leaking, finding out how to use a thermal imaging camera (and getting some great photos of colleagues in mysterious shades of red and green), and finding a replacement mirror that just fitted snugly in the bottom of a Microscope. I’ve been on training as an electrical safety (PAT) tester so now I poke around with the test probe trying to find the best spot to make a circuit and check the safety of all sorts of electrical equipment.  I poked at the (rather terrifying) garden shredder in about 5 places before finding just the right nut that exposed a clean metal surface.

I arrived just as Ben was starting and Maurice was moving on.  Ben, and an excellent volunteer, Ye, were very welcoming.  We worked together masked and with the windows open through the later stages of the pandemic.  Ben was busy ensuring a new level of organisation, tying maintenance of items to the library database, overseeing Genevieve carefully labelling all the items with their IDs.  It is not that things were disorganised before, it just seemed that a lot was in Maurice’s head, and it could be very tricky for newbies to locate items.

Since Christine joined in Autumn ’22 the atmosphere has changed again.  We now have a wildflower seed bank, neat and tidy drawers and a new focus on items that are fun and family friendly as well as the big ticket items.  The candy floss maker, chocolate fountain and glitter ball are all popular for  parties.  Her mark 2 labelling system means we can be sure the thing we are loaning to a customer is actually what they asked for.  In the early days Christine and I would quietly converse about some unidentifiable object (to us), such as a Frame Saw. Was this collection of unpromising bits of metal actually it, how did it fit together, and how did it work?

I think my proudest moment was riding off on the courier bike across Oxford to make a delivery. I haven’t done it again.  Reflecting why not, I think it’s because the bike is pretty heavy and it was doubtful who was in charge on some of the tighter corners, me or the bike.  My worst moments have been when yet again something doesn’t work for me, then Ben takes one look at it, and it works perfectly!  So annoying (but handy).

I love the ethos and role of the library – providing a service to help us all adjust to a reduce, reuse, repair, recycle economy. Even as a little girl I’d always loved fixing things and understanding how they worked.  In another life and at another time I might have become an engineer.  I also love being involved in the early stages of positive changes.  I’ve gone from: working for Women’s Aid in the 80s – the early days of women having a real alternative to staying in violent relationships; working as one of the relatively few women in IT from the late 80s onward, and then retraining as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in my 50s, at a time the NHS was first rolling out talking therapies. So the Library of Things really appealed to me as a movement at this time of ever more pressing Climate Crisis.  It’s part of a movement that is trying to build a ‘new normal’ for us all.  It’s done a great job so far for me, and I expect for all our customers, staff and volunteers.


Celebrating our 4th birthday!

Thank you to all the volunteers who joined us on Saturday 18th Feb and contributed delicious food for a “pot luck” to celebrate our 4th birthday. It was lovely to take a moment to catch up without busily cleaning gazebos or repairing kitchen appliances! And exciting to imagine what we’ll be celebrating at our 5th birthday too…

A special shout out to Allan’s daughter in law for the birthday cake!

We’d love to hear from you if you’d be interested to join our volunteer team, whether regularly helping at the library and repair cafés, helping behind the scenes and online, or joining for one-off events. Do get in touch with


A new group for “Sharing Black Friday”

Join our facebook group to help organisations find the stuff they need.

This year’s Black Friday / Buy Nothing Day seems particularly poignant. COP27’s outcome reminds us how far we have to go in reducing resource usage, yet discounts will be welcome as people make ends meet in a cost-of-living crisis. Personally, seeing 50 former colleagues and friends face uncertainty following Joules’ collapse into administration (after a summer where people hadn’t spent enough) was a stark reminder of the challenges of reaching a sustainable, lower-consumption society.

At SHARE Oxford, we’re committed to helping our community on this journey, and sharing ideas and lessons more broadly. With our focus on sharing and repairing stuff, and inspired by the generous people who donate items for our Library of Things, we thought how about a “Sharing Black Friday” to launch a new service supporting community groups and charities with stuff we can spare.

Our facebook group SHARE Oxford Community Sharing allows these groups to request anything they need, and we can all help find it. From furnishing homes for homeless people, to sourcing the basics families need, to kitting out some of the new “warm spaces” that are helping people through the winter, we hope this will be a powerful way to find a meaningful home for things you don’t need, and a valuable resource for the wonderful projects underway in our community.

So, our Black Friday ask is to please consider joining the group. Can you introduce the initiative to an organisation who might benefit, or help source something that’s been requested, and help your community to save money, save waste and save the planet?

As ever, we’ll be pleased to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how we can take this further and share more. Email Ben on


New: seed library!

Christine has brought some of her knowledge and passion for nature and gardening to SHARE Oxford, with the addition of a seed library!

The aim is to help you share seeds, rewild your garden and grow your own herbs and food.

Seeds are free to take and we ask that you donate back any surplus you have at harvest time to help the seed library grow.

We love wildlife friendly plants, herbs and food plants especially.

Christine has set things off with some wildflowers and borage seeds, which are fine to sow now if you’re looking to refresh some bare patches in your garden or would like to add wildflowers to your lawn in time for no-mow May. If you have any excess seeds you’d like to share with the community, we would love to hear from you at, or check out more about how it works on our seed library page.


Hear us on BBC Radio Oxford

We were delighted to be invited in for a chat with Fleur Ostojak on BBC Radio Oxford last night. Have a listen below!

Thank you very much Fleur and the team for helping spread the word and inviting people to think about sharing and repairing.


Help us reduce consumption & waste

We’re really keen to understand where our Library of Things can make it easier to avoid buying Things you don’t need. So we’re keen to understand:

  • What you’ve bought recently that you’d have rather borrowed
  • What hire / borrowing services you use
  • What sharing is happening on your street (on WhatsApp groups etc)
  • What you no longer need but are struggling to find a good home for, or have sent to the tip? 

We’d love to hear your thoughts – please fill in our form or drop us an email. Thank you!


Your unwanted stuff can make a real difference

We’re seeing just how much donated stuff can help our local charities during these difficult times. If you’re thinking of having a summer clear-out, as well as your local charity shop or the freecycle and freegle communities (and our currently rather short donations wish list for the library), here are some organisations where your unwanted things can make a big difference.

Help homeless people and refugees build a home: Oxfordshire Homeless Movement connects all the organisations in the county helping the homeless, and has a directory of places you can donate things to. On the page above, check out their facebook groups where people request what they need, often to help a homeless person set up a new home, and members reach out to their community to source them, as well as an amazon wish list of regularly requested things.

Your old laptop, tablet or phone can get someone online: help one of the estimated 40,000 people not able to access the internet in Oxfordshire: donate an old device to Getting Oxfordshire Online. This charity partnership will securely wipe it, refurbish it and pass it on to organisations supporting people who can’t afford devices.

That unloved bike can get someone riding: Broken Spoke or Asylum Welcome Bike project will both be grateful, whether to refurbish and donate the bike to someone who needs one, to repair for sale to fund their projects, or use for parts.

A box of old offcuts can inspire creativity: Orinoco Scrapstore in Templars Square have a fantastically eclectic mixture of all sorts of things and materials, with a mission to inspire creativity to save waste. Worth a visit (if nothing else, to see if they still have the mannequin in a fancy dress astronaut costume).

We’re aiming to build a better directory of these sorts of services on our website – if you’d like to suggest another, please do email Ben or add it in the comments below.


Welcome Christine!

We’re delighted to welcome Christine as our new Library Manager. Christine is working with Ben and our fantastic volunteers to manage the Library of Things, ensuring that everyone who borrows from us has a great experience and expanding our offering as we continue to grow.

As well as her passion for sustainability and community, Christine is a big animal lover, among other things running the Crittery educational website and animal rescue. Do be sure to ask about her baby Tenrecs! (no relations to hedgehogs, apparently…)


We’re hiring! Library Manager

[This role has now closed]

As SHARE Oxford continues to grow, we’re delighted to be hiring a new part-time, paid role for a Library Manager. You’ll be looking after the day-to-day running of the Library of Things, delivering brilliant customer experience and a great opportunity to shape this unique community service.