Charitable programmes

Edinburgh Tool Library

We have our regular library and workshop services for our members, but what else do we do for our community, and Edinburgh as a city? Read on!

Volunteer Assembly

Volunteer Assembly in action

Volunteer Assemblies happen three times a year. They allow us to use all the tools at our disposal and the skills of our volunteers to transform a space for another group.

When tools, volunteers, a workshop, and a great idea get together, we can make some amazing things. The Volunteer Assembly programme provides an opportunity for community groups, neighbourhoods, and charities to present their idea for a project that will benefit them or the people they serve. Each group gives a two minute pitch to explain to our volunteers what their idea is, how it would benefit their community, and how ETL can help make it happen. There is also a £250 budget to help make it a reality.

Volunteer Assemblies are social events for our volunteers, so we have some food and refreshments before settling in to listen to the pitches. Once the groups have pitched, the volunteers have about 20 minutes to ask them questions individually, and then we vote. While project with the most votes is funded, in reality, most of the projects will receive help from our Tooligans in some way. We have so far had 15 groups pitch, and we have gone on to help twelve of them.

Once the project is chosen, our volunteers nominate a project manager who helps bring everything together, from budget, to design, to workshop access, while being supported by our staff team. Once a plan is in place, all that is left is for our volunteers to come together and do the build itself. Check out this video to see how our outside classroom for Balgreen Primary School came together over a weekend.

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The Duddingston Conservation Society can now re-pot and sell plants in all weathers!

Other projects we have undertaken include making a set of giant musical instruments for Dads Rock, building a garden space with a Cyrenians community, reshaping the workspace of Bikes for Refugees, building a potting shed, outdoor furniture, and a shop for a community garden in Duddingston, as well as many others.

If you, or a community you are part of, think you could do with some Tooligan power, keep an eye out on our social media for our request for ideas for our next Volunteer Assembly. If you would like to be an in-kind sponsor of either food or refreshments for one of our assemblies, please email us at

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Tools For Life

One of our teams working on overhauling a bench for a church group

One of the things that we’re proudest of here at the Library is our Tools for Life (TFL) Programme.

The programme provides expert advice, practical workshops, and employment support to young trainees who are currently facing barriers to employment. It pairs mentors and trainees who then work together on projects that benefit local communities.

Mentoring is a proven way to pass on trade skills and knowledge. Our mentors are usually (but not exclusively) from a trades background, and have skills to pass on as well as time to give. The programme is designed to enrich the lives of everyone who participates, and we often find that the mentors get as much, if not more, out of the experience as the trainees.

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Memorial benches being refurbished by our Tools For Life team.

As well as budding joiners receiving training in trade skills, the programme gives young people the chance to develop transferable skills including learning how to be part of a team, time management, and project planning. It also gives them the opportunity to connect to a network of tradespeople with community members and improve the trainees’ long-term employment prospects.

We believe that the most powerful thing the programme gives trainees is confidence – confidence in themselves, and a positive relationship with their community again. It allows them to feel better about themselves and their place in the world, and overcome challenges they face every day.

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Our TFL team have also built a dozen Little Free Libraries, which you will find all round the city.

“It’s good to feel part of your community, help that community, and meet lots of interesting people.”

Tools for Life participant

We encourage trainees to continue to be part of the Edinburgh Tool Library as they spread their wings and to return as members or volunteers. For many, the Tools for Life programme is just the start of a journey towards employment.

This project currently has no external funding, and is paid for by ETL. We would love to help more young people, so if someone you know can help with sponsorship, a donation, or by volunteering, please get in touch. Your help will help us help a young person.

We also have an ongoing recruiting cycle for both mentors and trainees. If you are interested in either, please drop us a line at

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Makers in Residence

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A clock made by Becka Subido, a former MIR who has now started a carpentry business.

As an organisation that creates opportunities for young people, we have a limited number of opportunities for Makers in Residence. We give free workshop access to a variety of young makers, from needleworkers to upholsterers, carpenters to artists, in exchange for a set number of hours spent leading workshops. If you are interested in finding out more about how this works, please get in touch via

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Nailing It!

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Nailing It! is a project funded by the Volant Trust that introduces small cohorts of women to woodworking as a way to build confidence while learning new skills. It works through a referral system in partnership with women’s charities and takes place over 8 weeks.

Participants are taught by female tutors, and spend 5 weeks on their own project before taking on a community build for the charity that referred them. It all culminates in an exhibition of their work and a celebration with friends and family.

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Little Free Libraries

Little Free Library

In response to a growing demand, we have set up a little production line where we hope to service Edinburgh’s Little Free Library needs. Not surprisingly, we love the Little Free Library concept! We’ve contributed already to some you might have seen popping around the streets of Edinburgh but we want to see as many of them as possible. Read more about why and how we could build one for your local area!

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Fork In The Road

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Morvern sharing recipe tips at the Mobile Kitchen Trailer inauguration in 2017.

Fork in the Road (FITR) was born from a collaboration between the Edinburgh Tool Library and artist Morvern Odling. It is a creative research project that explores the relationships between community and food, re-imagining where kitchens can be found in Edinburgh.

The project came to life in Madrid in 2015, where Morvern Odling, Yannick Roels, and Suraia Abud came together at Interactivos, a design futures event held at the Medialab-Prado.

Their collaboration led to the creation of mobile kitchen units that are towed by bicycles. The kitchens’ mobility meant that they could easily turn up at different community spaces, with the purpose of engaging people in their environment through meals, workshops, and culinary bicycling adventures.

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Lisa and the kitchen trailer all set up!

New versions of the kitchens were co-designed with the ETL community, and two units now roam the community gardens and growing spaces of Edinburgh.

A book detailing the processes and workshops from the first version of the Fork in the Road tour is available as a free open source download, or you can order a physical copy for your community group for £5 plus p&p.

The project is an example of the kind of innovative partnerships that the Tool Library seeks to establish in order to help build the sustainable communities of the future.

If you think Fork in the Road would be of interest to your community, please get in touch with Lisa or Sarah, the project’s current leaders, to discuss how we can collaborate:
Or check out the FITR Facebook page for their latest events.

FITR is generously supported by the National Lottery Awards for All fund.

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Welcome Ramps

Storries Bakery now has a ramp to make it more accessible
One of our new Welcome Ramps at Storries Bakery in Leith.

The Tool Library has been busy this year making accessibility ramps as part of a project with the disabled access review website Euan’s Guide.

The programme enables local businesses to order a bespoke, removable ramp, which helps businesses become more accessible for wheelchair users, families with buggies, delivery people, and anyone who struggles with steps. For this reason we have called them ‘Welcome Ramps’. If your business is in Leith, you can even get yours for free!

To find out more, email

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