Welcome to Tools for Self Reliance

Glyn Roberts – Founder of Tools for Self Reliance

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Tools for Self Reliance founder Glyn Roberts, who died on 6th April 2016.

Glyn started Tools for Self Reliance in 1978 after spending time travelling and volunteering across Africa and Asia in the late 60s and early 70s, where he was moved by witnessing extreme poverty and ineffective aid programmes. Back in the UK, Glyn published several short books for volunteers, exploring what genuine development meant, and how volunteer organisations could act to empower those in need. A visit to Uganda, where he witnessed trade students trying to learn skills with limited shared tools, and village tradesmen struggling with worn down equipment, inspired the beginnings of what became Tools for Self Reliance, and the formation of the model that underpins our work today – a network of UK volunteers collecting and refurbishing tools to send to Africa.

Glyn stepped down from active involvement in Tools for Self Reliance in 1996 but remained a dedicated supporter and advocate. His passion and commitment to genuine empowerment of people affected by poverty has directly impacted the lives of thousands of people in Africa, who have been able to build a sustainable livelihood and improve their lives and those of their families and communities, thanks to Glyn’s vision – not to mention the hundreds of volunteers who have worked tirelessly for the organisation over the last 37 years.

Glyn’s funeral will be private, however it is anticipated that there will be an event commemorating his life at the Netley Marsh headquarters later in the year. Details will be released in due course, in the meantime, we ask our supporters to join us in remembering Glyn, and celebrating his legacy – that a strong, simple idea, harnessing the energy and dynamism of volunteers can produce and sustain an established development organisation which changes people’s lives.

There is a dedicated page on our website for sharing memories and condolences – if you would like to contribute, please contact Jemma Chambers.

Glyn Roberts

Our mission is to reduce poverty in Africa by helping people build sustainable livelihoods through the provision of tools and training.

We are a UK based charity working to help relieve poverty in Africa. We work with local African organisations to deliver a programme of tools and training to bring about effective and sustainable change to trades people and their communities. The primary countries we work in are; Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. You can read stories from our projects here.

Our Theory of Change demonstrates how we work towards moving people out of unemployment or underemployment and into meaningful, sustainable work to achieve our aim.

Theory of Change

Our UK programme supports these projects, at the heart of which are our volunteers. We provide volunteering opportunities to people of all abilities and from all walks of life, giving our volunteers the chance to learn new skills (or pass on existing skills) and make new friends, whilst working for a common cause they are passionate about.

Find out more

There are many ways in which you in which you can support us, find out more here.

To keep up to date with our latest news sign up to our monthly e-newsletter and read our newsletter, Forging Links.

Changing lives to build a better future – our organisational strategy 2012-16.


Tools for Self Reliance is a member of the Fundraising Standards Board

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