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


Medway Volunteer Workshop proud to have played its part

Despite Covid, fourteen containers of refurbished tools and sewing machines were sent to Africa by Tools with a Mission (TWAM) in 2021.  These equipped newly trained craftspeople, allowing them to earn a living for themselves and their families.  Medway Volunteer Workshop (MVW) is proud to have played a part in this worthwhile activity.

These tools and sewing machines were donated across the UK, diverting many of them from landfill, and then refurbished by local volunteer workshops before being assembled into kits for various trades.  Medway Volunteer Workshop (MVW), based in Chatham in Kent, is one of TWAM’s group of independent refurbishment workshops.

TWAM’s 2021 consignments include 2500 sewing machines of various types; 20% of these were refurbished by the team at MVW.  In addition, MVW contributed approximately 14,000 refurbished tools weighing nearly 10 tons, a significant part of the 140 tons TWAM shipped to Africa in 2021.

In 2022 MVW aims to improve on both these totals.  To achieve this more volunteers are needed at Chatham.  This probably suits retired tradespeople with a few hours to spare each week, working alongside likeminded volunteers whilst helping less advantaged people in Africa at the start of their own trade career.  MVW is especially looking for people with a mechanical or electrical background to work on sewing machines (training is provided).

They also require donations of unneeded manual and electric sewing machines plus hand and power tools; these can be collected throughout Kent or delivered directly to Chatham. 


Further information and contact details can be found at  More about TWAM’s work at   


Donate an unwanted sewing machine and change a life

Kent-based Medway Volunteer Workshop refurbish unwanted hand and powered tools and sewing machines on behalf of Tools with a Mission, who then send these to Africa to equip newly-trained craftspeople and dressmakers, so they can earn a living.

MVW, and other TWAM refurbishment centres, are getting through the unwanted sewing machines we have on hand, SO WE WILL SOON NEED MORE DONATED to allow us to continue with this worthwhile work (MVW aim to refurbish around 500 each year).

If you, or anyone you know, has a manual or electric sewing machine (with foot pedal please) you or they no longer need then a local TWAM collector can pick it up and we can put it to a really good use: or email 

Making a practical donation of an unwanted sewing machine can change the life of someone less fortunate. 

 Here’s a little story from the TWAM website which demonstrates how.

  Hello, I’m Harriet. I’m from Uganda and this is my story...

My family are subsistence farmers (that means they have a small plot of land, no bigger than the average back garden where they grow all the vegetables to feed themselves and hopefully a little more to sell to buy meat) and I did not want to do that. It is very hard and crops are not reliable so there is no opportunity to earn money, so little hope the children could ever go to school. I could only go to a bad school and had to leave that during primary.

I was desperate and became pregnant to a young man who had no prospects and would not marry me. Since then, I have always been alone. I did not want this life for my kids.

So, when I heard about the charity, Mindset Development in Entebbe and that they trained women and girls in tailoring for free, I applied to join. I completed my course in 2016 and won the Graduation Day talent show for the best designed and made dress. TWAM gave me a sewing machine and I started to work on a neighbour’s verandah.

After 2 years, I had saved enough to rent my shop. My life has been changed completely. Now my two boys (aged 14 and 11) are in a good school and both are top of their classes. I am so proud and so pleased I could give them the opportunity I never had.


Just a little reminder: Medway Volunteer Workshop is self-funded, so donations, scrap metal (which we sell) and volunteers are always welcome. 


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