From the Blog

Printed By Us

An idea to build a better future.

You may have seen a few of their prints scattered over our news feed over the past few months. We absolutely love what they’re doing for the vulnerable and homeless so we thought you might like to know the full story to. So here it is…

Tell us about Printed by Us, what is it?

We run screen printing workshops for people in Sheffield who may have experienced homelessness and other complex issues. We collaborate with local artists to create unique artwork, then:

We hand screen print the artwork.
Sell the prints.
Then we run more printing workshops.

Printed By us has a positive impact on the health and wellbeing for those involved, and is directed and run by people who have overcome challenging circumstances themselves.


Where did the idea come from?

It was a side project that has just got out of hand really. In a good way. I work in Sheffield city centre and so most days would come across homeless and vulnerable people on my journey to and from work and during my lunch break. Occasionally I would stop and talk and buy some food, but it all felt very short term, so chatting with a few friends and colleagues, I began to explore how I could use creativity and enterprise to make a longer-term positive impact.

I wanted to understand the various challenges faced by homeless people and people in recovery, so I did some research and to be honest felt pretty overwhelming with how complex the challenges are and how every person’s story is completely different. There is no quick fix. I spent some time volunteering at soup cafe’s at Cathedral Archer Project, speaking with people attending the cafe, key workers and other people who have had experience working with homeless and vulnerable people.

From this research, the idea developed and changed direction a lot. Most of the initial ideas were around creating something to sell and then giving money to provide “x” for homeless people. But a consistent theme was that vulnerable people in recovery want to volunteer, to contribute, to be a part of something. So after more ideas workshops with friends and colleagues (and lots of coffee) we finally arrived at the idea for Printed By us.

To do something creative, to teach people new skills, to grow confidence, to provide employability experience, to create something beautiful that we can sell to help fund the project and keep it running to help other people.

It was surreal to be in the first few workshops, to just look around and see everyone having a great time and enjoying printing and making beautiful prints too. Seeing the idea come to reality and be ever better than you imagine is pretty energising.

We’ve now run our first 4 printing workshops which you can see pictures and read about on our blog, and have created over 10 stunning prints which are available from our online shop.

Would you be able to share a story about one or two of the people you’ve worked with so far?

Sure, James was happy for me to share a little about his story, so 9 months ago he was sleeping on friend’s sofas and was addicted to class A substances and had been for over 7 years. He then decided that he wanted to get himself out of that lifestyle and so started getting some help through services offered by Cathedral Archer Project. Through his commitment to moving forward and getting support from his key worker, and through local NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings, he has come an incredibly long way and has now been clean for 9 months. Sean now has his own flat, does regular exercise running in the Peak district, cooks his own fresh food, does Yoga and is about the start training to become a guide dog trainer.

Printed By us has been a part of his process in moving forward and I asked him to say a bit about his experience of being a part of it. “PBu is good because there is a level of responsibility; turning up on time, working as part of a team and making prints that people put up on their wall. It’s given me an opportunity to learn new skills that I wouldn’t have even thought about. I was convinced that I wouldn’t be very good at it, so it has helped my confidence to see that I can do it. It has taught me to persevere because things have gone wrong when printing the artwork and we had to solve problems. When I was homeless I was stuck in a mindset that “everything is against me”. So I’d come up against a barrier, and just give up. PBu has taught me to persevere, which is vital because nothing ever runs smoothly in life. PBu has got me out of the sheltered environment of of CAP, and engaging with my community through working with Sheffield print club, meeting artists and meeting shop owners. I am part of a project that is helping me and will help other people too.”

James now prints the artwork, processes customer orders and is in charge of stock management as well as inputting into weekly team meetings. He will also be manning the pop-up shop we do at Peddler market next month, which we’re all really looking forward to.

Can you tell us a little about the artists that you work with?

We’re working really some really amazing artists across the city including Tom Newell, Sarah Abbott, James Green, Laura Knight, Rich Wells, and Lisa Maltby – who have all been super supportive of the project and keen to be involved and create something beautiful for us to print. All of their styles are completely different so it’s great to have the variety in the collection that we hope will appeal to a variety of people.

Have you got a message for the folks at home reading this?

Buy our prints. Now! Jokes.

When we started the project, we were just kind of testing some assumptions.

Would vulnerable people be interested in learning how to screen print?

Would they be able to produce high quality prints?

Would vulnerable people benefit from being involved?

Would artists be interested in working with us?

…through our first 4 printing workshops, we’ve proven YES! to all those assumptions and far beyond our expectations.

Now our biggest challenge is getting ourselves out there so people can see our prints and will buy them so that we can continue to run the project going forward.

We have zero marketing budget so need to get creative. We need a community of supporters who will get behind us and share our prints and the project on social media. We are going to be doing Peddler market in April which is pretty exciting so we’re hoping that lots of people will discover us through that too.

So the good people of Sheffield can support our project through sharing on social media and of course through buying our prints from our online shop 😉

How can someone get involved with the project?

As I said, we really need to get word out about our project and our prints so it’s a huge help when people share our project and prints on social media, or through blogging etc. We are really open to ideas so if you are or know any bloggers or social influencers who may be interested in supporting our project then please do get in touch. We’re also always looking for new designs for art prints, and other products that we’re looking to make so we’re always open to creative ideas and potential collaborations. So if you have any ideas you can get in touch through our website.

What else should we know about you?

Ooh what to say. I’m a freelance graphic designer so i’m going to take this opportunity to shamelessly plug myself to all you folks who need design / print / brand / web stuffs.


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