Who we are
We are a UK charity based in Ipswich, Suffolk, with centres across the country. We have a mission to empower people in Africa living in extreme poverty to create their own livelihoods. We do this by sending trade kits full of tools that are used in skills training centres, offering the trainees a way to put poverty in the past for good and begin their own sustainable careers.
We send around 18 containers to rural African communities every year, full of tools that have been collected from across the UK, and refurbished in our refurbishment centres.
We have a strong environmental focus, as our work helps to keep around 225 tonnes of tools out of landfills in the UK every year.
We also have a wide range of volunteering opportunities that enrich local UK communities and provide a safe environment for people to make friendships whilst making a difference.
Our Core Values
We are committed
to the poor.
We are called to serve the vulnerable and ultra-poor and work with those who share our compassion to alleviate their poverty and suffering.
‘For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother (and sister), to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’’ Deuteronomy 15:11 (ESV)
We are stewards of the Earth's resources.
We take great care to collect donated useable tools and save thousands of tonnes of tools destined for landfill every year. We practice good stewardship of all our resources, whether donated tools, financial gifts, or the opportunity to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities to people across the UK.
‘As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.’
1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
We are partners.
We work with charities, churches and communities across the developing world who share our compassion to reach the neediest of peoples. We recognise that we are not called to work alone, but to seek out those with whom we can stand in our calling to alleviate poverty in Jesus Christ’s name through livelihood creating tools.
‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.‘ Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
We are Christian.
We follow the teachings of the Bible and the example of Jesus Christ.
“The second (commandment) is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:31 (ESV)
Trevor joined TWAM from a career in Health and Safety and health care management. He ably leads a large team of volunteers and one member of staff in preparing all our containers for dispatch. He also oversees our Health and Safety compliance.
Ipswich Refurbishment Centre
Mike joined TWAM from many years working with The Leprosy Mission in 2015. He has led TWAM through a period of significant change and growth.
He tells us, 'The mission of TWAM to place donated tools into the hands of trainee craftsmen and women in Africa is so simple, yet life-transforming. It is great to combine this with our green credentials. TWAM is a visionary work and I am very privileged to be a small part of it."
Paul looks after our volunteers, including leading our recruitment campaigns and processing all applications.
Lyn has been with TWAM since 2015 and oversees the exporting of all TWAMs containers. She prepares all the detailed documentation for the tools kits and liaises with our UK staff and volunteers, as well as our shipping agents and in-country partners.
James joined us in June 2021 to begin his journey in fundraising. He currently runs our social media pages and studies all aspects of fundraising in his apprenticeship.
Head Office Manager
Jonny joined TWAM in 2020 and manages the day to day admin of TWAM, ably supported by a team of volunteers.
Linda prepares our quarterly prayer diary and collates prayer requests and information from across Africa. She is also our Country Coordinator for Zimbabwe.
How it all began
From small seed to giant mustard tree
In 1978 Jack Norwood, a deacon at Belle Vue Baptist Church in Southend was asked by the Baptist Men’s Society to head up a project making incubators. This was followed by a request for solar powered incubators and Jack went out to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) for a year (1979-1980) to develop them. A teacher from Waterlooville, John Bennett became interested and from this partnership Tools with a Mission was borne.
As John became involved he extended his interest as he discovered that tools were badly needed and soon involved pupils from his school collecting all kinds of agricultural tools. Under his supervision the pupils cleaned, renovated and painted the tools ready to go to Zaire. They organised a “sponsored event” to get the money with which to ship them, and that was the first Tools with a Mission shipment sent to David Stuckley, a missionary working in Zaire (now DR Congo).
This idea began to formulate in John’s mind, and he decided that there must be others in the same situation as David, trying to pass on skills to people who badly needed them, but with little in the way of actual tools. John suggested the idea to the Baptist Men’s Movement who adopted the idea and launched Tools With A Mission in 1984.
From garage to barn
Initially, it operated out of a double garage and shed in Bexleyheath but after just five years the work had to look for larger premises.
In response to an article in the Baptist Times, Bill and Beryl Dewhurst offered the use of a barn on their farm on the outskirts of Ipswich. Thurleston Lodge Farm became the new home of TWAM and a regular work team was established. Initially, it was monthly, then weekly and soon daily.
Space was again soon at a premium and it was at this point that rented premises had to be sought in order to obtain the kind of space required. TWAM moved into Perry Barn, in Sproughton, just outside Ipswich which had 2,300 square feet of warehouse space, plus the luxuries of heating, toilets and a canteen area. TWAM was now growing at a rate that was unimaginable in the early days.
By this stage, the output had increased dramatically, due to the fact that all operations could now be carried out under the one roof. It was decided to register as a charity in 1999. TWAM quickly established itself as an interdenominational charity, gaining support from all the major denominations as well as many secular organisations. In spite of additional storage space being created by using two 20-foot containers and a Portakabin to accommodate the office staff, operational space quickly became a premium.
From barn to warehouse
After much prayer, the TWAM board were led to take a twenty-year lease on a unit, on Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate in Ipswich. This gave just over 6700 square feet of floor space, which increased by a further 1000 square feet when a mezzanine floor was added over the workshop area.
Just two years into the lease the owner offered TWAM the opportunity to purchase the property, which we were able to do for £270,000. Appeals raised over £185,000 and since then we have been able to make all the repayments on the bank loan. The mezzanine floor has again been extended to accommodate the haberdashery and book departments.
The rest as they say is history!