Tools For Life

Sharpening in Edinburgh

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

*We currently accept applications from 16 to 25 years old.