Don't look back just look forward

by Seagulls Paint in Leeds, England, United Kingdom


raised so far



We need to make Seagulls safe for staff, volunteers and customers so we can collect, mix and sell paint, offer creative projects and refills

by Seagulls Paint in Leeds, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

Our mid to long term plans are to welcome back our more vulnerable volunteers to Seagulls. This will prove problematic with physical distancing but we're hoping to put enough safety measures in place to make this happen asap.

We are also exploring the possibility of a paint and refills delivery service but this requires quite alot of thought to how we can make it work financially. We know there is demand for this so we are keen to explore how it could work.

if we can keep exceeding our target we will be putting any additional funding towards a new van. Little pink, our old van has carried well over 2000 tonnes of paint and is ready for retirement. However we need 2 vans to pick up paint safely and so she will need replacing.

Seagulls life as we know it has been turned upside down. As a social enterprise centred around people and reliant on their power we are having to rethink how we can do business. Until we have made adaptions and worked through the new health and safety proceedures we will have to remain closed.

Seagulls is home to our paint reuse service (saving paint from landfill), a paint store for local people, a zero waste refills shop, mosaic studio, gallery (events space) and the recently opened LifeHouse (creative arts workshops and decorating pods) all alongside our volunteer and training programmes. In normal times we welcome up to 50 volunteers per year: ex offenders, young adults with learning disabilities, people living with poor mental health, isolated and directionless young people. Seagulls is a unique and friendly place that gets results.

We are looking for funding to help us change how we work to survive in a life during and after Covid. 


What are we trying to achieve?

In the short term we need to restart collecting paint from the household waste sites. The people of Leeds are desperate to empty their sheds and cellars of their unwanted paint and we need this paint to restock the shelves and start a click and collect service for paint. We also need to keep our workers and customers safe.

To enable this to happen we need to invest in some equipment and make alterations to our premises

  • Invest in trolley cages that we can quarantine the paint in before opening the tins and reprocessing the paint. 

  •  Make some adaptations to the paint store and mixing areas to enable physical distancing for staff and volunteers. This includes 2 new hand wash stations and some modifications to our rest areas. 
  • We plan to digitise our payment systems and offer a click and collect service for paint.
  • We need to make adaptations to our refill shop to ensure we have a safe way to help people refill their bottles and shop in a more sustainable way.

LifeHouse, Mosaic and The Gallery are creative community spaces - We know that in the short to mid term we will not be able to hold our usual markets or run creative workshops in Mosaic and LifeHouse so we need to be resourceful in finding a way to make an income for these parts of business. We have a talented team of practitioners who can utilise their skills to make things; mosaic kits, LifeHouse creative kits, online tutorials, products from reused materials, woodwork and screen printing commissions. We need to invest in some tools and equipment to make this happen.

What makes Seagulls great?

Seagulls has been a well respected social enterprise in Leeds since 2004. We have weathered many storms in our years, most notably the Boxing Day floods in 2015 and are a resilient bunch. At Seagulls we are passionate about social justice and the environment. We have a unique and holistic approach to helping people that gets results. Our staff team is made up entirely of previous volunteers and we're like one big family!

Who are we?

Myself (Cat) and Kate are the drivers behind Seagulls. Back in 2001 I was fresh out of Uni and Kate had recently moved to Leeds and was a single mum. From true grass roots beginnings we have built Seagulls into a unique and creative social enterprise that brings meaningful opportunities for marginalised people alongside the environmental benefits of diverting paint from landfill and offering a refills service.  To date we have rescued over 1000 tonnes of paint from landfill and currently provide jobs for 16 people. We work with 50 volunteers per year; ex offenders, young adults with learning difficulties and those suffering from a crisis of mental health. Our work is needed now more than ever! Seagulls gives people an opportunity to develop coping skills and feel part of the community, this is why we started and why we still love our job.

Seagulls is a valuable community resource and we are determined not to become a casualty of Covid. We are committed to continue operating and in time resume working with our more vulnerable volunteers. Seagulls means a lot to many people and we believe that with a little help in the form of investment we will be able to keep going. We are good at adapting! 

Why did we start Seagulls?

Kate and I met 20 years ago whilst volunteering in LS6. Around Kate’s kitchen table we bonded over a passion for social justice and the environment and held the belief that one man’s rubbish is another’s gold. This was at a time when there were no green bins in Leeds. We wanted to raise awareness of recycling and reuse whilst providing jobs, training and volunteer opportunities for ourselves and others. 20 year later we are still here, still passionate and still motivated to support our community! What started as just a paint store has grown into a space for creative workshops, skills training and markets.


However, what was once a thriving place with an action packed year ahead of us has turned into something very very different. We are having to rethink our entire enterprise. Thank fully we are not short of ideas and have a plan to move forward.

How will we spend the money raised?

The money raised will enable us open our doors again to the Leeds community. As the weeks have moved on we have recognised the enormity of the task ahead (especially for a social enterprise offering supported employment and volunteering and a small staff team) but we know that we can rise to the challenge. Every penny and offer of help really counts. If we have to buy everything we’ve talked about then we will need £5K. Any leftover money raised will be directed to our volunteer programme and making sure our long term volunteers feel supported during these hard times and essentially get them back to work and being part of the team as soon as possible.


We need to either buy, or beg for, some large shop cage trollies that we can quarantine the paint tins in before we handle them.

In the short term we will not be able to have customers in the shop so it will be a click and collect system. We need to buy a computer system, software and some know how that will make this work.

We need to reconfigure the paint store to make it efficient and possible at some point for customers to come into the shop- this means taking out the existing counter and opening up the shop. We have the skills on our staff team to build and do the work but will need to buy the materials and some tools to make the work easier.


We need to repurpose the shop to make the refilling system more efficient. In the first instance we will be offering some form of click and collect service, before opening up the shop for customers to safely visit at a later date.


We have the skills within the team to reconfigure and build the new shop layout. We are also planning to utilise skills to make bespoke woodwork commissions, creative kits, video tutorials and screen prints. By investing in some pieces of equipment (printer,  surface plainer, extractor unit to name a few) we hope to be able to make the work efficient and make a range of products to sell to bring in an income for LifeHouse.  This will also enable us to provide a safe space for our dedicated employees and volunteers to return to work and we hope to work towards restarting our much needed training courses for Care Leavers when the time is right.

Your rewards

  • £5 pack of Rainbow of Hope postcards- photographed by our volunteer photographer Rick
  • £10 paint voucher
  • £10 refills voucher
  • £10 LifeHouse voucher
  • £10 Mosaic voucher
  • £25 mini Rainbow mosaic kit

Our Mosaic team are working on producing a mosaic kit in the shape of a rainbow. You will be able to choose between a hard backed mosaic or a mesh mosaic that can be applied direct to an exterior wall. 

  • £100 a4 Limited edition (run of 20) Rainbow of Hope screen print 

Our Master Printer Leon Varga will be turning our favourite image of our rainbow into a limited edition screen print.

  • £150 a4 personalised screen print (2 colours)

Our Master Printer, Leon Varga will turn your image (from a photo) into a 2 colour screen print. Leon will discuss with you what will make a good image. This will be a one off, unique and personal screen print produced on canvas or paper.

  • £200 a3 personalised screen print (2 colours)

Our Master Printer, Leon Varga will turn your image (from a photo) into a 2 colour screen print. Leon will discuss with you what will make a good image. This will be a one off, unique and personal screen print produced on canvas or paper.

  • £350 a0 Limited Edition (run of 5) Rainbow of Hope screen print


Why are we called Seagulls?

It was very hard to think of a name when we started out. I had a flash of inspiration whilst waiting on the platform at Bristol Temple Meads train station. There were lots of Seagulls wondering around and it got me thinking that back in the days seagulls would have been following the fishing trawlers but now a days they're on the tips and in our cities causing havoc and being pests. The name seemed to fit what we were trying to achieve and so Seagulls was born!

When will the paint store and Refills shop be open?

We are aiming to open the shop in early June with a click and collect service. We hope that once we have reconfigured the paint store we will be able to welcome people back into the shop to browse and benefit from our teams advice and expertise.

When and where can I donate my unwanted paint?

We are aiming to resume paint collections from all of the household waste sites in Leeds from early June. We will let people know via social media and website when to start taking paint to the tip.

Are you running any mosaic or LifeHouse workshops or courses?

At the moment we have had to cancel all of the above. We hope that within time and once we can all move around more freely we hope to offer small workshops and longer courses(max 2-3 people).

Can I help as a volunteer?

We want to get the safety measures in place and our staff team feeling confident before we welcome back our more vulnerable volunteers.


It is possible in the coming weeks that we may put a call out for volunteers for specific roles, for example a driver, meeter and greeter in the yard. We will let people know via social media what we need.

Are the craft markets cancelled?

It is looking likely that we will have to cancel all of our Markets and events this year. We have not given up on some form of winter market but this maybe us still dreaming!

Do you want donations of particular equipment or materials?

If anyone knows of a supermarket or shop that is prepared to give us some cages then that would be most brilliant!

We will be looking for hand wash basins and hot water heaters if anyone knows a helpful business that might donate??

We will also need wood. It doesn't have to be in the best condition because we plan to reuse as much as possible with a new surface plainer.


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