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All About Tools for Self Reliance

An enthusiastic local group is changing lives across Africa, by collecting old and unwanted tools and using them to transform lives. Tools for Self Reliance is a national charity and Martin Blamire from the local branch in Colwall tells us more.

Tell us about the charity
We take tools that are no longer needed, refurbish them, then send them to five African countries. These are used by partner organisations in each country to run training courses to help to set people up in business. At the end they will buy a reasonably priced toolkit to continue working in trades including motor mechanics, blacksmithing, construction, woodwork and tailoring.

Who donates what?
The wonderful part of our work is the donations. People are so generous. For some people, it’s a way of keeping a relative’s toolkit used and treasured, rather than taking it to the tip. 

Someone from Ledbury phoned us recently. Her dad and his brother worked as fitters for British Leyland. She donated their tool kits which were top quality and were in good condition as they had been well looked after. Eventually, these will be used to provide a livelihood for someone working in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Uganda, Malawi or Zambia.

The effect of our donations can be staggering. A 90 year-old sewing machine can be brought back to life and put into the hands of an expert tailor in Malawi. It provides a living to support a whole family. They can pay for their children to attend school, an opportunity that changes lives.

How did the local group begin?
Our local group started 2017 when I moved to the area, I was involved setting up a group elsewhere which I really enjoyed.  We needed a workshop and the Malvern Hills Trust kindly provided us with a small but secure place to carry out our work, at a peppercorn rent. A local church also helped by offering us much needed storage space.

We currently have seven and a half members! We are from many different backgrounds and we bring many different skills. Its not only about collecting and refurbishing the tools, there’s a strong social element and we chat away as we work. 

Thanks to continuing local generosity, so far we have sent hundreds of refurbished hand tools, electric tools and sewing machines. We have also raised over £4,000 through sales of tools not currently wanted by our partners in Africa, which will go towards transport and training expenses.

How can local people support your work?
We really need workshop tools, whether rusty or not. Something as simple as an old bench vice or a G-cramp can be vital to setting up a workshop in a remote location. Like all charities we’ve had a really hard time since lockdown, so financial donations are very welcome. 

To donate tools or find out more, 
please call (01684) 540491 or visit