Tools for Solidarity is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to support artisans in the poorest parts of the world and mostly in the countries of Africa. This act of solidarity enables these artisans to become more self-reliant and gives them hope for the future.  

The charity runs solely on the power of their International and Local volunteers. They have volunteers from countries such as Albania, Turkey, Russia, France, Germany, Belgium, and Italy. “The sewing machines we send out, we have to make sure they are completely working, and all the different parts have to be tested and any issues have to be fixed before they go”. So even though a volunteer may not have any experience working with sewing machines, they are trained up to be a sewing machine expert.

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The charity also focuses its efforts closer to home by running a variety

of programmes designed to help and support our local community.

Tools for Solidarity give people with extra support needs the

opportunity to come work in their Belfast workshop, 2 days a week.

They have also invited 5 refugees and asylum seekers into their

workshop for a week to learn how to fix sewing machines and at the

end of it, they will be given a sewing machine to take away with them. 


The charity also extends their efforts into local primary schools

where they offer an education program which is delivered free of

charge focusing on educating children about sustainable development.

This program has been a great success with both children and

teachers alike and covers a variety of aspects such as waste, causes

of poverty and climate change.  

The Tools for Solidarity workshop is full of stock which has been generously donated by the public. They have a wide range of sewing machines, knitting machines and tools in their workshop which are currently being up cycled and repaired with plans to send another 24 sewing machines to Malawi next year to help give people with disabilities greater prospects.   

The charity also sends out Knitting Machines to women in Tanzania. “A knitting machine is a business, so if you give someone a knitting machine, they now have the ability to generate income for themselves. People often question why we need knitting machines because it’s very warm in Africa but where we work in Lake Victoria is over 1000m above sea level so it can get very cold, especially during the day. Schools there insist that their pupils wear school uniforms and part of that school uniform is a knitted cardigan that you can’t get into school without. So, this creates a business need for the knitting machines.”  

However, the help that the charity offers doesn’t just stop with a sewing machine. They usually send out a 20ft container that would typically contain 300-500 sewing machines, spare parts, scissors, oil cans, tape, material, and other material items such as thread, buttons, zips, elastic etc. All of which are items that we take for granted daily but in the right hands, can create a business that gives these artisans a purpose and a new lease of life. 

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