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Educating Leeds with SCRAP

scrap1A Leeds-based entrepreneur is reusing tonnes of donated scrap to inspire creativity in children and young adults.

Louise Lucas, founder of SCRAP, an arts-based project which intercepts waste from local businesses, started the business nine years ago after believing that waste could be reused for educational purposes.

After starting out as a solo project, SCRAP now runs as a social enterprise, employing six full-time staff and a range of volunteers including scrap collectors, artists and tutors.

Louise says, “We started in a tiny room, which we rented from another social enterprise. When I set up, the first thing I did was get in touch with companies who could donate their waste and set up a little shop. I won a social entrepreneur funding bid and we moved to a bigger premises.”

Run from The Spinning Mill in Farsley, SCRAP offers a diverse range of workshops including tinker sessions, felt building, head-dresses and den building and also has its own café and mill-shop.scrap2

Louise adds, “We make all kinds of things. Our biggest thing is called ‘Loose Parts Play’ where we just give children objects that would have been landfilled and they get on with it and use their own creativity to make things. Instead of them playing with plastic toys, they’re playing with real things that would have been landfilled, such as pipes, plumbing bits, old keyboards, things like that.

“The artists that we work with are really inspired by using recycled, saved-from-landfill materials. Our clients who purchase stuff from us; schools, nurseries, child-minders take it and use it creatively in their settings.”

“For a long time, Leeds City Council Early Years Service were coming in and buying stuff from us for the Early Years team and for schools. They were telling everyone about us because it fits so well with Early Years practices for children.

“Within that time, we were discussing how it would be brilliant for them to be in the same building as us. The director of Leeds City Council came and saw what I was doing. He could see the vision – I wanted to move to a bigger premises where we could run all these workshops and have the shop with a little café. He really helped us to move it forward.

“I found this building, negotiated a price and discussed it with the Early Years Service. I thought if they could come in with us, it could reduce our rent and bring more people in. At that time, I went for growth funding as well and won quite a big bid from the Yorkshire Philanthropy Fund of £56,000, which was perfect for what I wanted to do. I then won a transition fund, for an additional £10,000 for equipment in the training rooms.

scrap3“When I first came to this mill, I thought ‘We’ll never be able to afford this’ – but now we’re here, in a huge mill space, which is being renovated to make space for photographers, designers, artists and other arts-based projects, so it’s really bringing the community together.”

“We’ve just had our first year celebration in the mill and all the targets have been met to become sustainable, so we don’t have to rely on funding anymore. We’ve met every target and above, hopefully we can carry on like this and grow even more.”


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