Designs on Volunteering

Designs on Volunteering 1

We want to bring you a bit closer to some of the folks that help make The Edinburgh Tool Library the special place that it is, and shine a light on some of the unsung volunteers, characters and creatives that help to build our community. First up, is Zoe Ugne, who volunteers every Wednesday, yet is probably not someone you will have ever met at the Tool Library.

Tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do, how are you creative, and what do you do at ETL?

I’m a graphic designer, specialising in branding. My studio is called Studio Zo and in a few months it will be one year old! I help ETL with their graphics – brand guidelines, print design and making sure their visual identity game is strong and uniform.


Who is your inspiration?  Where does your creativity come from?

I have an older sister and I grew up constantly trying to reach her level of skill and creativity. We went into slightly different directions – she’s an interior designer and I’m a graphic designer – but we still fuel each other’s creativity. Nowadays I’m inspired by those slow, beautiful moments… #daysofsimplethings


Why do you think sharing/the ETL ethos is important in the modern world?

A few important reasons: we are One and we should share – kindness, love and tools; there’s too many of us and we can’t keep making things, we need to think about our impact on this planet. The reality is that Earth would thrive without us.

Designs on Volunteering 2
Zoe at her desk that she upcycled at ETL, with help from Jonny and our volunteers

Why is volunteering important to you?

Because it’s about giving. Giving more allows us to feel more connected to our community and the world, it’s healthy. 


Lockdown is a bit of a weird time.  How are you keeping busy?  What creative outlets do you have?

Keeping busy keeps us ‘asleep’. I think it is important to use this time now to slow down, look within, face our fears and grow. I am hoping that we will come out of this having more compassion and appreciation for each other and ourselves. I do, however, like structuring my day for work, exercise, chores (but also leaving space for breaks, meditation, reading).


We are all getting used to our ‘new normal’, but once the health crisis is over, how do you want the world to change?  What should the new ‘new normal’ look like?

I want us all to appreciate and love nature and our planet more. To understand that slow living is good for the soul. To stop being rats in a maze and start living authentically, stop escapism. To observe our ego and no longer let it drive, put it in the back seat. To stop mindless consumerism, to stop numbing ourselves and to feel more accountability.

If readers want to follow or commission your work, how do they find out more about you/get in touch with you?

Email me at hi@studio-zo.com and I’ll get right back to you. My new website will launch soon but in the meantime have a look at my Instagram @studiozo_design

Where volunteers become tooligans

Where volunteers become tooligans 3

It’s Volunteers’ Week; a time to celebrate and say thank you to all volunteers around the UK, and here in the Edinburgh Tool Library (ETL) we didn’t want to miss this chance to share with everyone how amazing our volunteers are. Or as we like to call them, our Tooligans.

To get an idea of how much Tooligan power helps ETL, you should know that more than 2400 people have signed up as members since we started and more than 850 are currently active, borrowing a tool every 5 minutes we’re open. With just 40 regular Tooligans, commiting a few hours a week, with others joining the action as and when they are needed, the volunteer team is at the core of ETL activities and running. We are grateful for them every day of the year (although it is nice to have a special occasion to say it louder than usual!!!). Volunteers run the borrowing sessions, support members at the open workshops, repair tools, update the database, help with community builds and so many other things to help Edinburgh to make the most of its Tool Library.

On the team you can find women and men of all ages and walks of life. From those in their teenage years to those in their not-so-teenage years, locals, or people hailing from overseas, expert woodworkers, DIY fans or newbies who previously thought routers were only things that gave you the internet. Some have been volunteering since we opened,  showing their commitment to ETL and their shared values but also demonstrating that it is a valuable and enjoyable experience for them – they keep coming back! Many Tooligans are relatively new, but the number of volunteer submissions growing steadily is a sign that word of sharing is spreading and taking root in our community.

Over the last year the Tooligans have, amongst many other things:

  • Led the borrowing sessions at the depot and the police box in Leith
  • Supported members in over 100 open sessions at the Custom Lane workshop
  • Helped design and refit the Portobello workshop
  • Supported the running of Porty workshop and tool library twice a week
  • Taught and assisted in over 40 evening classes
  • Undertaken volunteer build weekends for the Piershill Residents Association and the Duddingston Conservation Society, building outdoor furniture, bird tables, potting sheds and vegetable shop!

But, why they do it? Many come to make new friends and to feel part of a community of like minded people with shared values, both social and environmental. Some enjoy the opportunity to learn new skills from fellow volunteers or members.  For some people volunteering is a window to connect with the world in a different way, allowing them to overcome their struggles with mental health through helping others. And there is always the act of sharing: sharing experiences, sharing knowledge, sharing spaces, sharing tools, sharing moments, sharing laughs and fun.

As for myself, I learned about ETL a year ago after deciding that I should give back to the community that has welcomed me.  I visited Volunteer Edinburgh, where they helped me to find the right place to start my volunteering journey. On my first meeting with ETL and hearing about the philosophy and values of the organisation, I knew I was already one of them, even if my experience with drills and hammers was quite limited at the time. And so my Tooligan story began. I know it is not going to be a short one!

Whatever the reason, every contribution is invaluable and without it ETL would not be possible. If you are around one of our locations this Volunteer’s Week, don’t forget to show your appreciation to our Tooligans. You can simply say thanks or leave a few words in the Volunteer Thanks Books that you will see appearing in our workshops and depot. Volunteers are essential to keep improving your community, helping you with your DIY, and keeping your Tool Library with its doors wide open for everyone.

Mariana Berdun
ETL Volunteer