The host i Repair ShopJay Blades, join Happy talk about the amazing ability to correct everything, even ourselves, with the help of community, human connection and conversation
Jay Blades is buzzing with energy when he appears on screen from his agent’s London headquarters. Last month has been hectic for him, he says, but in the best way possible. He has received an MBE for his craft services, Repair Shop is back for the 10th series, and There is no place like homea new fantastic documentary series about his childhood home, Hackney, has recently aired.
Doing it: How love, kindness, and community helped me repair my life, Jay’s autobiographical book, has also recently been published in paper. It is a warm, honest and open story about everything that has brought him to where he is today. He describes his struggle with mental illness, the people and places that brought him back to a place of well-being, his relationships and his deep love to mend and make good objects and situations that others could erase.
“I do not like to give up on people or things,” says Jay emphatically on the subject. “I believe that everything can be repaired and it can take some time – I know Repair Shop we usually do it in 15 minutes but in the real world it can take from a day to six months to repair an item. “If you’re ‘repairing’ someone, it could take a lifetime.”
Jay knows this concept personally and builds on his experience, including actively thinking about suicide seven years ago.
“I needed repairs at the age of 45 and I’m still repairing myself,” he says with crude honesty. “I’m still looking around to make sure I manage my mental health and stay strong even physically. I do this with the support of other people, who make sure I eat properly, get enough sleep, “etc. I listen to those people because I’m vulnerable and not as strong as I thought I was.”
Jay is clear that maintaining well-being is not a single project for anyone. “The reality is that we need people to help us repair ourselves, because if you fall again, who will you talk to? You can not talk to yourself if you are in a dark place. You need that community. ”
The concept and impact of the community fascinates Jay, and he has explored this further in his recent documentary. Over the course of three one-hour episodes, he learns about the history of the streets he walked as a boy, meets old friends and local heroes, and marvels at the incredible events and injustices that occurred just minutes and miles away from where he played as
Hackney, he says, has left an indelible mark on his heart and helped him build the unwavering morale he has when it comes to community support and return. He explains that he has benefited from the support of so many people at different stages of his life that it is fair to ensure that help is available to others when they need it.
However, Jay is inclined to note that you do not have to be a public figure to help or make a difference. “We can all do well, I do not think it is something that is possible only for a select few.
“Doing good can be volunteering in the local church, it can be volunteering everywhere.
“And you never know who you’re going to get in touch with and what impact you’re going to have on that person,” Jay says. “Let’s say you are a man and you volunteer in a country and there is someone who does not have a father. You can become that role model for them. So, really, really, we all have to give back. “
As part of his personal commitment to this, Jay has mentored a number of people, including Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock. He is now a trusted trustee of its charity, The Black Fund, an organization that channels funding and other support for charities that already do important work to empower black communities. He is also an ambassador for the Gangs Unite and The Prince’s Foundation, and supports and inspires people informally through the programs he presents.
“I classify myself as a commendable employee in the community they have featured on TV,” Jay says.
“And my role is to influence and help people I will never meet.”
As for the people he meets on the set of the shoot Repair Shop, its impact is more immediate and more visible. He is a human person, capable of calming contributors as they share memories and emotional meanings behind the precious family legacies they have brought with the hope of restoring them.
This ability is an ability that Jay is extremely proud of, as it was born out of his ‘superpower’: dyslexia. “It’s not something I’ve avoided,” Jay explains. “I was able to adapt to any different environment where I am.
“As humans, I’m thankful we can talk and communicate, so we do not need to rely on technology; when you talk to someone, it has more impact than sending an email or a text. When you can talk and smile, see their reactions, hold their hands and hug them, that’s really powerful. So I am talented to be able to talk to people. That’s my superpower. “
Instead of working from scripts or production notes on the show, Jay says he will be told the person’s name and what they are bringing for repair just minutes before they meet on camera. “I have a conversation with them to find out what the article is and the story behind it. It seems to me that it is easier to do this when I know nothing, so then you just have a one-on-one communication. I would say that 99.9% of cases work well. ”
Jay is visibly passionate about all the work he does and his mood remains just as lively and in a good mood as it was at the beginning of the conversation, despite the endless work commitments he will have in the coming days. There is, he says, a good reason for his lasting positive energy.
“I am 52 years old, but the thirst I have for life now, it seems to me that I am 17 or 18! Because I was in a place where I reached the end, and I’m not saying everyone should go out and do it, but for me it’s actually what gave me life again.
“To reach the end, to see that tomorrow does not exist and then to get out of it, you are just so hungry and grateful for life.”
‘Doing it: How love, kindness, and community helped me repair my life‘by Jay Blades (blue bird books for life,, 9.99) is out now.
Listen to the full interview with Jay on the Trendzfast podcast, ‘I Am. I have’
Photography | Paul Marc Mitchell