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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

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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)

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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)

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We are partners.

We work with charities, churches and communities across the developing world who share our compassion to reach the neediest of people. 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)

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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)

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We're very proud of our green credentials and incredibly passionate about combatting the effects of climate change.

Read more about our environmental impact here.

Our Team

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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.

Trevor Maynard

Ipswich Refurbishment Centre

Manager

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Mike Griffin

Chief Executive

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."  

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Paul Daley

Volunteering Coordinator

Paul looks after our volunteers, including leading our recruitment campaigns and processing all applications.

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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.

Lyn Walker

Operations Manager

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James Noble

Fundraising and Communications Officer

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.

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Nigel joined us in 2021 to help with the big move from our Coventry Refurbishment Centre to our new centre in Rugby.

Nigel Hyde

Rugby Refurbishment Centre Manager

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Sheldon Gower

Ipswich Refurbishment Centre Apprentice

Sheldon joined us as a volunteer when he was 16. He became our first-ever apprentice at 17 in January 2020. He quickly became an irreplaceable member of the team  

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Jonny Green

Head Office Manager

Jonny joined TWAM in 2020 and manages the day to day admin of TWAM, ably supported by a team of volunteers.

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Linda Griffin

Prayer Coordinator

Linda prepares our quarterly prayer diary and collates prayer requests and information from across Africa.  She is also our Country Coordinator for Zimbabwe.

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Caleb Scotland

Rugby Refurbishment Centre Apprentice

Caleb joined us in 2022 to help Nigel with our new Rugby Refurbishment Centre.

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Jan joined the team in September 2016 and is responsible for all day-to-day finance matters.

Jan Brown

Finance Manager

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 Movement (BMM) 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 (1981) to develop them.  A teacher from Waterlooville, John Bennett became interested and from this partnership and 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 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 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 2004.  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 with a bank loan covering the remainder.  This was quickly paid off.

Since then TWAM has continued to grow with the addition of workshops in Coventry, Kenilworth, Penarth, Halstead and Cowdenbeath.  These were all volunteer led and contributed to the signifcant growth in the output of tools and containers sent to Africa. 

TWAM was soon sending tools to countries in Africa and Eastern Eurupe and by the early 2000's had settled on DR Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

 

2015 saw the begining of signigfficant growth for TWAM as new staff were recruited and the mission began a refocus.  Over the ensusing years TWAM focused on DR Congo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe with 18 containers a year being despatched to these countries containing around half a million individual tools.  Ipswich was revamped, the van fleet increased and modernised and overseas teams established.

The growth was acheived with the support of a number of independent workshops standing with TWAM and making offering a huge support.  These included Tool Aid Ringwood, Medway Volunteer Group, Tools4Africa, Sheffield and Tendring Tools4Africa.

The next major step in our history

In 2020 Mike Griffin (CEO) and the Board of Trustees agreed a five-year strategic plan that would see an ambitious goal to double the output of TWAM and the amazing impact of our tools. The goal was to reach one million tools sent to Africa every year.

To achieve this, it was agreed to take the tough decision to close the smaller centres and commit to opening a large Refurbishment Centre in the Midlands capable of matching the output of Ipswich and sending up to 18 containers of tools a year. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our truly heroic volunteers accepted the decision to close Penarth and Cowdenbeath and emptied their centres and handed them back to the landlords. Kenilworth closed, but reopened as an independent workshop under the leadership of St John's Church in Kenilworth. As of June 2021, the volunteers in Penarth have set up their own charity and are looking for premises to reopen as an independent workshop.

2022 was an amazing year for TWAM as it saw the opening of the second major Refurbishment Centre alongside Ipswich. At 12,500 sq. ft, it is the largest centre TWAM has ever had. The centre was identified in December 2021. Its manager, who initially worked out of our Coventry site, joined us in March 2022, and we took possession of the building in August 2022. This prompted the closure of our small Coventry site with most of our volunteers transferring with us. Click to download the PDF of the 'journey of a building' which was a talk given by Mike Griffin our CEO at the Commissioning and Dedication service on 4th September 2022.

 

In line with this significant growth, TWAM is expanding into new countries starting with Malawi and Tanzania in 2023.

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