Supporting Tools for Self Reliance – Practical Help for Practical People


Latest News

John Wetherby (1939 - 2023)

Tools for Self Reliance (Coventry and Warwickshire) originated in 1992, but by 2014 its activities had significantly decreased. At this point John Wetherby became Chair, and under his leadership the group went from strength to strength. John increased the membership significantly, and provided volunteers with efficient organisation, encouragement, and inspiration.

Since this time the group has contributed more than £25K to the national charity (Tools for Self Reliance) from tool sales, and large numbers of tools have been sent to Africa for use in training courses.

John retired from his position as Chair in 2021, but remained as an active member, and took pains to ensure that the group was able to continue its valuable work in the future. Throughout his time with the group, John was patiently supported by his wife Jennifer, to whom we are also most grateful.

We would like to pay tribute to John for his remarkable achievements, and to express our gratitude for his leadership, dedication, good humour and friendship. He will be sadly missed.

21st June 2023

Tea for Tools

Angela organized and catered for two superb events this year, raising over £500 for Tools for Self Reliance.

18th March 2023

Selling on eBay

We have significantly increased our presence on eBay. You can see what we have for sale by clicking this link:

1st January 2023

A Change of Name

We decided that the previous name of our group (Tools for Self Reliance Coventry and Warwickshire Volunteer Group) was too long. So we are now called "ToolsAbroad". Nothing else has changed - we still send tools we collect, and money we raise, to the national charity "Tools for Self Reliance".

23rd October 2022

Another Good Year

As we approach the end of 2022, we have already raised well over £4,500 for Tools for Self Reliance.

5th August 2022

Summer Fund Raisers

Spurred on by the challenge and example set by Head Office, we organised our own summer social fund raisers.

10th February 2022
Thank You

A Message of Appreciation

Over the past five years, the Coventry and Warwickshire Volunteer Group has raised over £24K, which has been sent to ...

16th October 2021

The Haberdashery Hunt

Coventry Volunteers Angela and Dorcus have been busy collecting haberdashery, and recently took a trip to Tools for Self Reliance HQ to make a delivery.

15th October 2021

Tools Sales Update

Our face-to-face tools sales have come to an end for this year, which has been our most successful yet. With the help of our volunteers, customers, and supporters, we have been able to send over £8,000 to Tools for Self Reliance to help them continue their excellent work during what has been a difficult time for all charities.

8th October 2021
8th August 2021

Workshops at Bablake School Restart

Following the ending of the government restrictions that were imposed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, we have now negotiated a return to our workshops at Bablake School. There is of course a continuing need for vigilance, and measures to maximise the safety of all concerned are in place.

23rd October 2022

Another Good Year

In addition to our regular weekend sales, events this year have included:

  • Car boot sales at Stratford Racecourse and Long Itchington, and sales at two special events at Church End Brewery, Nuneaton.
  • Social events (ploughman’s lunch and coffee morning)

A useful income has also resulted from our use of online advertising via Gumtree and Preloved.

Thank you to our volunteers: tool and haberdashery collectors, refurbishers, sellers, social events organisers,  admin staff and supporters by all other means.

Thanks too, on behalf of ToolsAbroad, Tools for Self Reliance, and the trainees in Africa who benefit from your generosity, to those who have donated items or have bought tools.

10th February 2022

Summer Fund Raisers

Spurred on by the challenge and example set by Tools for Self Reliance Head Office, we organised our own summer social fund raisers. Firstly, a traditional ploughman’s lunch and raffle, on a glorious Sunday in July supported by 40 family and friends from our Coventry group, who tucked into crusty bread, cheese, and salads accompanied by a selection of cold drinks, and beers/wines which were well received, as people socialised in the flower garden and took shade under the awnings, when they could.

A great afternoon was had by all, raising £415 and a prelude to our second event. Later in early August we had a coffee morning and cake auction. The morning started with a sudden deluge of rain, the first we had had in four weeks but not be deterred people dashed for cover in the kitchen, whilst the brave stood with their umbrellas come parasols waiting for the shower to pass; soon the sun burst through the clouds, seats were wiped dry and people enjoyed a lovely morning of cake and tea accompanied by music and dance. Midterm, the auctioneer took his place, and we had much excitement bidding for home made cakes/pies. A great sum of money was made on the day and with later donations £560 was raised. Making a fantastic, fund raising total of £975 from Coventry and Warwickshire.

Thanks to all who supported these events so generously in whatever way!

10th February 2022

A Message of Appreciation

Over the past five years, the Coventry and Warwickshire Group has raised over £24K, which has been sent to Tools for Self Reliance to help fund training courses in Africa. More than half of this was raised over the past two years, in spite of Covid restraints. The group has also sent large quantities of refurbished tools, to be used both for training purposes, and to equip trainees to work independently when qualified. Ben Riley, who is the charity’s Volunteer Co-ordinator, emailed us recently saying: “An increase on each year’s fundraising (including the COVID years) is an amazing achievement. These efforts go in line with what myself and other staff here regularly say about the Coventry group, and how you are an excellent example of our volunteer groups – in terms of your approach to the tools we need, sales and your recruitment of new members. Please thank everyone for me for all the hard work”. On our part, we would like to thank the people of Coventry and Warwickshire for their generosity and support over the recent difficult times.

10th February 2022

Haberdashery Hunt

Courses in tailoring and embroidery are among those supported by Tools for Self Reliance, so supplies of sewing machines and haberdashery are always welcome. (You can see the sorts of items that are needed under “Haberdashery” on our Support Us page). Coventry Volunteers Angela and Dorcus have been busy collecting such items, and recently took a trip to the Tools for Self Reliance HQ in Southampton to make a delivery. Here is her report:

Dorcas and I set off at 8am on an October morning to find the TFSR headquarters in Southampton. We were packed to the gunnels and even managed to squeeze in another box once we had occupied the car seats. Here is the list of what we had in the car:
* 13 sewing machines
* 2 large shopping bags of sewing patterns
* 1000 bamboo knitting needles
* 1000 bamboo loop knitting needles
* 4 black bags of wool
* 3 black bags of material
* 1 shopping bag of buttons
* 1 shopping bag of sewing threads / embroidery threads
* 1 bag of zips
* I bag of press studs
* 1 small bag of crochet hooks
* I mixed bag of ribbon / lace / tape and bias binding

We still have 3 more machines, a suitcase of haberdashery, and a black bag of wool to forward to headquarters in the future.

Our drive had us pass through some lovely countryside through the Cotswolds. It was a great morning sky and it became bluer and bluer as we drove our way down the M3 and M27 to Netley Marsh. We had used our own navigation skills until we got to Southampton when we relied on the sat nav which somehow took us to a recycling centre, but not the one we were looking for! With an enquiry we rectified the situation and arrived to be greeted by two volunteers at TFSR who willingly unloaded our donations from every inch of the car!

We then had a lovely tour of all the workshops and met some of the volunteers who explained their roles and how they had become involved in the charity’s work. We were escorted by a European volunteer from Russia called Alfiia who enthused about the workshops and her role. She said she particularly loved the packing for shipment as this was the end of the process in the UK. A shipment was being prepared for Sierra Leone that would go out in November.

We were shown the sorting area where all donations came in. We then encountered the Sewing workshop where every machine is checked using a rigorous check sheet to ensure that every machine is in good working order. We met two volunteers in the woodwork shop packing the machines and jig cutting a shape in the top of the wooden packing box to allow a sewing machine to fit on top and provide a good base when in use in dressmaking out in Africa. We met Jenny who gave us a details of how the haberdashery was sorted and packed into boxes, such as sweets boxes and wine boxes, with a small quantity of each haberdashery item as a start-up kit for a woman beginning dress making.

We learnt that 87% of those trained in Africa using the donated tool kits retain their skills and develop jobs, thereby becoming self-reliant. In comparison, the retention rate after training in UK is 55%, so supporting TFSR is an excellent use of money and resources.

We were shown a small shed at the front of the site that has been converted into a shop. It is used to sell haberdashery, refurbished sewing machines and tools to generate funds for shipment costs. It was beautifully laid out and the prices of the items for sale were almost the same as those we ask for in Coventry! A small group of special needs friends operate the shop and provide superb support for the charity as well as benefitting from great camaraderie and experience. Items of Haberdashery that cannot be sent out to Africa are sold on eBay or at a stall in Southampton called ‘Robins Nest Emporium‘ to boost funds for training.

We left Headquarters well acquainted with its operations, and were very impressed by the commitment and passion of the volunteers. We felt that this was a worthwhile and valuable charity that benefits individuals in the UK and in Africa. We returned home enthused by all we saw and thanked each other for the camaraderie and conversation which we shared on the journey. We look forward to continuing our volunteering for the Coventrty Group, and will seek others who can support the collection of Haberdashery, which gives women in these African countries the opportunity to earn a living, be independent and believe in their own self-worth.