Medway Volunteer Workshop in Kent is a local initiative to help a national charity, Tools with a Mission, headquartered in Ipswich


 Reopening after lockdown

Medway Volunteer Workshop in Chatham re-opened on Monday 22nd June, after a full Health & Safety assessment, with limited manning to achieve social distancing but with an extra work day to compensate.

Our volunteers are delighted to again be refurbishing donated tools on behalf of charity Tools with a Mission.  They compile these into kits which are given to craft trainees in Africa about to embark on their career, thereby earning a wage to sustain themselves and their family.

Our sewing machine team continues to work both in the workshop and from home.  They have serviced, repaired and prepared 308 machines during the 10 months since Medway Volunteer Workshop opened in 2019, including 147 this year (even with Covid 19).  These are sent to Africa through Tools with a Mission where every sewing machine changes a life, as this recent story, and several others, shows:

Many tailors in Zambia are being forced to think on their feet while sales of clothes plummet. TWAM Volunteer Paul Seymour, has been catching up with sewing machine recipient Lizzy, one of the founding members of the skills organisation Vision Care Foundation.

"I first met Lizzy in 2016, she had a sewing machine donated by TWAM which she received when she graduated 4 years ago. Lizzy (pictured below) is in her late 30’s, married with 2 young children. They live in the mining town of Kalulushi some 10-15 miles from Kitwe.  While they all live together, her husband provides little to the family income choosing to spend most of his money on alcohol.  Lizzy has become the breadwinner, making clothes for sale with her sewing machine to raise enough money to feed her children and send them to school.

During the period of the recent lock down, she was going to the market to sell the clothes she had made but there were few people about and she sold very little.  She then hit on the idea of making face masks after the Zambian Government made it compulsory for all citizens to wear a face mask while in public.

Lizzie spent a day making them and produced 75, which she took to a larger market in Kitwe and during the course of the day sold all 75.  She made 375 Kwacha (around £17). This is the most money she has made in the past 2 months!  She has since continued to make masks while the demand continues."





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