Seagulls Life House; Making your house a home.

Providing meaningful experiences for Care Leavers to learn how to decorate their homes and give them a sense of achievement and ownership. Seagulls Life House will bring pop up pods for people to learn the skills to make their house a home.

For most of us, when we decide to decorate our home we know how to go about it; a trip to the local paint store to choose paint (the type and colour), the materials needed to prepare the room and then having the confidence to put it on the wall. But there’s lots of people who just don’t know where to start and lack the confidence, skills and guidance to give it a go. Enter Seagulls Life House to demystify the process and help people make their house a home.

To understand Seagulls Life House it’s important to know a bit about us as Seagulls is a unique and special place!

Seagulls was established by the Co- Founders (me- Cat and Kate) around Kate’s kitchen table. We bonded over our passion for the environment and social justice. We wanted to create volunteering, training and job opportunities for ourselves and others. We formed a Social Enterprise and as the saying goes from little acorns mighty oaks grow.

We have worked with leftover and unwanted paint for nearly 20 years; the collection, the reprocessing and the sale of it. The process provides great opportunities for volunteering and afforable decorating for Leeds residents. We also deliver large scale community arts projects through our Seagulls Mosaic Programme.

We have a successful volunteer programme We Grow People, working with some of the most marginalised people in Leeds. We understand paint and we understand people so Seagulls Life House is a natural progression for us and the work we deliver.

We understand the importance of making a house your home and we understand the barriers faced by many to make this happen. Painting a room can be daunting and overwhelming, where do I start? What do I do about stains? How do I fill a hole? Do I paint the walls first or the ceiling or the skirting boards? So many questions can result in decorating paralysis and paint stays in tubs, walls stay grotty and your home life is stressful.

The problem

We are ALWAYS being asked if we put the paint on the walls as well as selling it. We did have a decorating service, we got the t shirt and couldn’t make it work for us. But what we did do during that period is design a programme called Assisted Decorating- we would go into people’s homes and give them a crash course on how to decorate, leaving them with the skills to continue on their own. We have always wanted to build upon this idea as we know it will complement our volunteer programme and we are always being approached by support services for help with decorating and basic life skills.

We have identified 2 core groups we will be aiming to work with in this project: Care Leavers and ex-offenders.

In Leeds there are over 500 care leavers at any one time, about 200 of whom live in their own properties. Following development work with Leeds City Council Care Leavers Team (CLT) we understand there is a huge demand for painting and decorating courses and a need to learn basic life skills. Young people are often allocated council or social housing which is often in a poor condition. They get stuck when they see their new properties and are overwhelmed by the experience. Unlike children who have not been through the care system, they don’t have a ‘mum/dad’ or ‘family friend’ who can help when they move into their property so they end up leaving it as it was when they moved in, not a good start for independent living.

This lack of skills, confidence and support also rings true for ex-offenders and having worked along-side prison staff and ex offender support agencies for over 15 years we know there is demand for supportive and practical life skills training for prisoners on ROTL (day release from prison) and most importantly when people leave prison.

Having somewhere to call home is particularly important for vulnerable people because it provides the grounding they have sadly so often not experienced. They lack the basic skills to turn their house into a home and we hear many stories from support workers who are desperate for opportunities for their client groups.

A place to call Home

Seagulls Life House is a natural progression, building upon our volunteer and training opportunities. We have the vision and experience to create a space that is welcoming and functional for groups of marginalised people to come and learn new skills they can take away and apply to their everyday lives.

We aim to build a series of pop up rooms that will become practical teaching rooms for demystifying painting and decorating. To compliment the rooms,we will build a workshop space and volunteer facilities. The workshop space will be used for practical lessons in how to upcycle furniture or screen print something for their freshly painted walls.

We will be supporting marginalised people to make their house a home, by helping them develop practical skills and confidence to maintain their tenancy, notably via decorating, how to approach a decorating job, learning about colour theory, painting techniques and room styling on a budget.

On our current staff team, we have a trained painter and decorator, Ruksar, who helped us develop the Assisted Decorating project. He is keen to dust down his decorating whites and lead the practical painting courses. We will also be inviting in guest facilitators and other trades people to deliver a training programme that is relevant and inspiring.

The Solution

Seagulls was established out of the need to increase recycling and reuse opportunities for people in Leeds in tandem with our social justice mission. Our social impact highlights since opening are that we have collected and re-used over 1000 tonnes of waste paint, (170 tonnes in 2018). We have created over 300 volunteer opportunities through our ‘We grow people’ volunteer programme, engaging with people who are ‘hard to reach’ in terms of employment or are marginalised. 90% of our present paid work-force are people who were previously volunteers with us. Overall in 2018, we created a massive £1,009,000 of social value. We have created a unique, friendly and supportive place to work., as a social enterprise that gets results for people and the environment.

Image: crowdfunder.co.uk/seagullspaint

Having expanded our floor size in 2018 and establishing Refills by Seagulls with the help of We Love This, an Events Company helping make our dreams a reality, we are now ready to increase our capacity further, introducing Seagulls Life House and enabling us to grow our staff team to take on more responsibility to work with more trainees and volunteers and developing our training space to offer more opportunities. At Seagulls it’s all about a person’s mental well being and by equipping people with the relevant skills and confidence they can make their house a home.

Investment would mean that we will be in a position to increase the number of volunteer places on our ‘We grow people’ program through the development of Seagulls Life House. We have a clear mission of Planet People Profit and we see the potential to increase our impact across all 3 P’s! Through Crowd Funding investment we can increase the revenue generated, which in turn will be used to develop our social reach and expand the services we can offer.

What will we do with the money?

When successful, the money raised from our campaign will go into one of three areas:

Fun stuff – At least 50% will go towards building the decorating pods, workshop and adapting the space for volunteer facilities. We will be equipping the workshop with basic tools and decorating equipment and if we raise enough we will be purchasing screen printing equipment. Amazingly our friends at We Love This are bringing their expertise, time and leftover materials to the Life House: like our Knights in shining Armour they have designed the space and have started to build the pods. Where possible we will be reusing wood and materials donated to the project but there will be some structural work and builders needed to reconfigure the space for the workshop and volunteer space. We will also been ensuring the building complies with health and safety standards and we anticipate needing to spend some funds to make this happen.

Sensible stuff – We’ll need to spend at least 20% of the funds raised on things that will help to open and keep the Life House running. Things like rent, heating, water and lighting. We already have funding secured to pay for a contribution to these costs.

Important stuff – We will also need to invest at least 30% in our current staff team, enabling them to raise their job roles and therefore creating additional employment opportunities in the paint store.

Why do you matter?

Your support during our campaign will create the critical mass we need to make this project a reality, every penny counts. This project is all about people and community. This your chance to say YES, we support the work of Seagulls!

We are very excited to have been selected in taking part in a Crowd Funding campaign with Legal and General who are offering to match fund this project. We need to raise £5K from our lovely supporters to get an additional £5K from Legal and General. However, our project isn’t the only one in this campaign and funding is allocated on a first come first serve basis so we need to raise the money as fast as possible in order to double it!

How else can I help?

If you’ve already donated (thanks!) or can’t donate right now, there are other ways for you to show your support.

TELL THE WORLD! – If you love our idea then please – tell your friends and family and anyone else you know. Donate here …

SHARING IS CARING – Crowdfunder suggests that every share on social media will raise around £20. So please share Seagulls Paint on your social media networks and help us reach our goal. A personal message will often lead to a donation!

TELL THE WORLD! (AGAIN) – If you’re a keen writer or blogger then we’d love it if you wrote about our project. If you have any specific questions then you can get in touch via email catandkate@seagullsreuse.org.uk

Once you’ve written something please make sure to share it with us and tag us online

@seagullspaint #seagullslifehouse #seagullspaint