Letchworth Garden Shed

Letchworth Garden Shed

At a glance


  • Financial inclusion

Other details

Organisation type: 
Social enterprise
Geographical remit: 


We are working to set up and run a library of things (LOT) in Letchworth, enabling individuals, households and groups in our community to borrow more and buy less. Alongside the main operation of enabling our members to make/ clean/ watch/ sew/ build/ fix/ bake/ redecorate/ play without buying the equipment outright, the Letchworth Garden Shed will serve our town and surrounding area as a hub for a range of community-led, waste-minimising, money-saving activities (e.g. repair days, skills classes, etc).

The people who will benefit the most will be, as they have been in other towns/ cities with LOTs, people living in poverty or who struggle finanically. We are all aware of the cost of living crisis and how it can act to narrow the chances available to the less well-off. Making a wide range of applicances, tools and equipment accessible to these groups will mean the associated activities and opportunities will also be available to them, regardless of financial circumstance.

The feedback we've had demonstrates that this isn't the only demographic that will benefit, however. People from all walks of life are interested in the environmental impacts that can be avoided when you borrow an item you only need for a while, rather than buy it. Many people have expressed their desire to declutter their homes, and how be able to reliably borrow a hedge-trimmer, wallpaper-steamer or cake-mixer would relieve them of the need to buy and then store their own. In considering this wider view, we've come to believe that our whole community will benefit from a venue that all these groups feel is equally 'for them'. The significant number of volunteer roles entailed in running a LOT will provide opportunities for isolated individuals to be part of a friendly team, for the un- or under-employed to build their confidence.  Our goal is to make all of these different groups feel not only that the LGS is for them to use, but for them to play a part in running. 


We are working to set up a library of things for our area. An LOT acts as a communal store for its community: rather than 30 people owning 30 different drills, for example, we would hold one or two different models of drill that everyone could then access for a nominal amount. Our aim is to enrich the lives of people in the community, by making items, and therefore the activities associated with them, accessible without entailing buying an item outright, or spending a lot of money. Accordingly, the fees charged by a LOT are much lower, and for a longer period of time, than any commercial company 

Because LOTs are community-led, they stock things that aren’t typically commercially available for hire, such as sewing machines, rotovators, children’s play sets, board games, cake tins, etc. This is also our intention: we have been running a survey through our website and at stalls at festivals over summer, where locals have voted on what they’d like to be able to borrow, and suggested things we hadn’t thought of. We also intend to be a resource for various local groups, and are in talks with their representatives about what we could hold in stock that would be of benefit to them and their members to be able to borrow cheaply. As an example, a local charity that supports parents of Down’s Syndrome children, has given us a top 5 ‘wishlist’ of items that their members would like to have easy access to, and we are negotiating with the Coop bank to fund those items. 

Because LOTs are focused on what people in their communities need, they typically rent out equipment that is too small for commercial companies to stock, for example, Hull’s Library of Stuff hires out tape measures, drill bits; Share Bristol hires out sets of allen keys and paint roller trays. We intend to create a similar inventory, guided by the survey results. 

In addition, we will run repair events, four times a year, where volunteers will fix people's broken items for free. We are being mentored by a Repair Cafe in our neighbouring town, who have agreed to support us in setting up our own events. 

We will also run regular skills classes, focusing on how to use the different items in stock - how to put up a shelf using the drill, how to repair your jeans, etc - as voted for by the community. 

Current opportunities

Hertfordshire, SG6 3EF

A chance to join the team running our thriving library of things in North Herts.