2021 Christmas Card design unveiled

2021 Christmas Card design unveiled

Every year we like to showcase talent in our sector by opening the design of our card to a Rising Star, and for 2021, the task was taken on by Folake Fadojutimi

For Folake, designing this year’s card allowed us to see just how talented she is. “The theme for the Christmas card was geometrical style, something I had never tried before and was quite new to. I took this on as a challenge and a great learning experience, creating animals in a simplified geometric shape, emulating origami paper, and as a result a wholesome family of penguins was born. As Christmas is a time where families come together and enjoy each other’s company, I wanted to portray that same feeling of warmth in this year’s theme, and I couldn’t be happier with the overall outcome.”

Folake received the Postgraduate Bursary from The Stationers’ Foundation this year, funded by the Charity, allowing her to complete an MA in Digital Media at Goldsmiths University and further her skills in this field. 

“The support of The Stationer’s Foundation has allowed me to fully engage in my Digital Media MA course,” explains Fola. “A course that focuses on the ever-changing digital environment and encourages existential questioning of the digital world. In more practical terms, I’m currently exploring animation and digital illustration, growing my skill set and capabilities on the course.”

Thanks must also go to Precision Proco for their involvement with production and fulfilment of this year’s card.  


Men’s mental health – how to support your male colleagues proactively

Men’s mental health – how to support your male colleagues proactively

Suicide rates in the UK show that it disproportionately affects men, with 75% of suicides in 2020 being males. 

It’s a terribly sad statistic, but maybe not surprising when men typically find it harder to talk about their feelings and ask for help. If you are concerned and want to know how you can proactively support the men around you, we’ve compiled some expert guidance. 

Encouraging conversation

Nicola Peacock, relationship manager at The Printing Charity, is a trained Mental Health First Aider and says the best thing you can do is ask the men around you how they are, and listen to their answers. She also adds that it’s not something you do once, instead you need to normalise talking about feelings openly. 

A useful tool from the training she recommends was the acronym ALGEE, which stands for:

  • Approach the person, assess and assist with any crisis
  • Listen and communicate non-judgmentally
  • Give support and information
  • Encourage the person to get appropriate professional help
  • Encourage other supports

If you need some prompts, Movember Conversations is a great tool to give you confidence when talking to men who may be struggling. You can also point your staff to peer support groups such as Andy’s Man Club which run support groups nationwide

Myths about suicide

During her Mental Health First Aid course, Nicola also learned about suicide and some common myths which are helpful to understand when speaking to anyone in crisis. 

*Myth – if you ask a person about their suicidal intentions, you will encourage the person to kill themselves.

*Fact – The opposite is true, as asking them directly will often lower their anxiety level and act as a deterrent.

*Myth – a person who attempts suicide will always be ‘suicidal’.

*Fact – Most people who are at risk feel suicidal for only a brief period of their lives. With proper assistance and support, they will probably never be suicidal again.

*Adult MHFA Manual (2016 publication)

Appoint a Mental Health First Aider in your organisation

A Mental Health First Aider is someone who can spot the signs and symptoms of ill mental health, which is key to getting people the help they may need. They act as the first point of contact for anyone in the workplace who may be struggling, offering supportive conversations and guidance, helping employees to know they have someone to reach out to. 

There are a few different courses on the MHFA England website, with two days being the typical duration, meaning it’s something manageable for most businesses. Depending on the size of your business, it’s advisable to have more than one first aider so they can support each other in the role.

Rather than selecting Directors or line managers to take on this responsibility, open the offer to the whole team and show your commitment to mental health at every level. 

Organisations that can help

If you’re ever worried that someone’s life is in immediate danger, call 999 or go directly to emergency services. 

As well as talking to your staff as much as possible, there are these organisations you can make sure they are aware of. 

CALM has a helpline and webchat, as well as lots of information and resources. 

Samaritans are available 24 hours, 365 days a year. Just call 116 123

Mind has fantastic crisis tools and a wealth of information and support on its website. 

Movember has a great list of organisations to contact for a variety of issues. 

Our Helpline 

If your organisation is in the wider print industry, our free helpline offers 24/7 access to BACP accredited counsellors to help with in the moment emotional support. Contact us today to find out more about the service and how to register.


Stress – how to spot and manage stress at home and work

Stress – how to spot and manage stress at home and work

We can all feel stressed at points in life depending on what we’re going through, but when it fails to resolve our physical and emotional wellbeing can take a real toll.

Recognising the signs and symptoms is a vital first step before taking actions to beat it. As part of Stress Awareness Week, we are sharing our top tips to manage and minimise stress at home and at work.  

Stress at work

The workplace can be a high pressure environment at times, leading to feelings of fatigue, worry and burnout. Although a little bit of stress can help us along sometimes, we must watch out that these feelings don’t become commonplace. 

There are various symptoms of workplace stress including low moods, tiredness, trouble concentrating, and absence. Everyone deals with stress in different ways but there are plenty of things you can do to reduce overall stress at work and regain a sense of control. Balancing your time and workload, including taking regular short breaks is highlighted by Mind as a key tool in helping to manage stress. The NHS has some great advice too, an important one being talking to someone about how you are feeling. Whether a manager or occupational health team, opening up can be a big relief and help you make a plan to manage your feelings.   

Stress at home

Our lives are often filled with tasks and challenges. From health and financial concerns to managing general household responsibilities and family relationships, there are many reasons to feel stressed. This can lead to feeling unable to cope, trouble sleeping, headaches and a lack of energy, all of which are common physical and emotional signs of stress. 

If you are worried about your finances, it’s good to start with thinking about a budget which you can review regularly. Money Savings Expert has plenty of advice and resources on how you can manage your money. Although it can be hard to open up and talk about money, especially if you are struggling, there are lots of services out there to support you, like Stepchange

Talking to those around you in your household to express how you are feeling as this can help reduce the feeling that you’re alone in the situation. Eating healthy, and making time for exercise can have a huge effect too. The Mental Health Foundation outlines these methods and others you can try that can help to reduce the impact of stress.

Our Helpline

If you work or have worked in the print industry and need someone to talk to about your wellbeing, no matter how big or small the issue, work or home related, we’re here for you. Our 24/7 free and confidential helpline can support you with practical and emotional assistance, helping you to feel more in control. Contact us today to find out how to access the service. 

“You’re always there for me if I need help”

“You’re always there for me if I need help”

Five years ago, Maria had to reduce her working hours for health reasons and ended up in debt.

She got in touch with Citizens Advice and was referred to the financial advice charity, Turn2Us, which suggested The Printing Charity may be able to help her. Maria thought the charity only helped printers so was amazed that her print experience counted. 

“You’ve made such a difference to my life, helping with everyday expenses and money to buy a bed and washing machine,” she says. “I really appreciate the Christmas payment, too, which helps with my heating bills.”

Maria was introduced to the world of print by her parents, who both worked for national newspapers. In 1970, aged 16, she started work at the Daily Express as a junior secretary earning £9 10 shillings and sixpence a week. Encouraged by her manager to develop her skills, her next role was in display advertising checking proofs at the Evening Standard. 

After a break from the sector, she worked for Woman’s Own, a women’s consumer magazine. Starting as the magazine’s agony aunt’s secretary, she was promoted to the fashion page, answering readers’ fashion questions, a job she loved.  

“But magazines didn’t pay very well, so I took a job at The Sun as the secretary to the classified advertising manager,” she recalls, “but I got caught up in the 1986 Wapping dispute and was out of work for 13 ½ months. I’ve had some great times in print, though, going to fashion shows for the press at Harrods and socialising in Fleet Street’s well-known haunts like the Printer’s Pie and King & Keys.” 

We are proud to be able to support people just like Maria. If you or someone you know who is connected to our industry is struggling, we’re here to help. Contact our Welfare Team on 01293 542820 or email support@theprintingcharity.org.uk 

“It’s like a little oasis here at Southwood Court”

“It’s like a little oasis here at Southwood Court”

Jeanette is Home Manager at Southwood Court, one of our sheltered homes offering independent living for those retired from print and the allied trades. She spoke with us about life in the community and the benefits of living in an almshouse.    

What does your role entail? 

The first thing I do each morning is a welfare check on all of our occupied flats, to say hello to the residents and make sure they’re fit and well. Their wellbeing is really important to us, and although we don’t offer medical assistance or personal care like a nursing home would, these check-ins help me keep an eye on their physical and mental health and notice any deterioration. If so, we do help to try and put things in place to hopefully make life easier for them and increase the time they can maintain their independent living. 

I have a really great team on-site and a strong working relationship with Kathy, Home Manager at the charity’s other scheme, Beaverbrook House. We make sure to support one another in our roles and are always on the end of the phone if needed.  

What development works are being done at Southwood? 

Currently, Southwood is on course to complete a major project of upgrades to ensure that the residents have great quality accommodation. Most of the flats have been redecorated and the building has all new windows and doors etc. We have a great team of builders here who have got to know our residents well and understand their needs.  It’s like a little oasis here at Southwood, it’s quite secluded with plenty of trees and the countryside, but still close enough to local amenities and transport. 

What is the community like? 

Most of the residents here have a family connection to print, rather than having worked in the sector themselves. When any new residents join us, I ensure we have a little get together to introduce them to their new community, make them feel welcomed and hopefully transition them smoothly into living at Southwood. 

Before the pandemic, I held a walking club and also attended a training course to become a chair-based exercise instructor, which I hope to start up again soon. We hold frequent events from BBQs to fancy dress parties, quiz afternoons and bingo. We have a yearly Christmas lunch at one of the local hotels, as well as race nights, fundraising events for other charities, breakfast club mornings, and board game afternoons. There is plenty to get involved in if residents wish to do so! 

We know it was tough for residents during lockdown, so we made sure they had plenty of treats including cream teas, easter eggs, flowers, Christmas hampers, and fish and chip suppers, in a bid to ease boredom and lift their spirits.  

What do you see as the benefit to living in an almshouse? 

One of the main benefits is that it helps to combat any feeling of isolation that residents may have encountered outside this environment. It’s a community, and residents have the opportunity to become involved in activities if they want to. us that if there are problems with any aspect of their flats, staff are available to ensure that issues are rectified. 

We’re here to assist, when needed, by signposting to the relevant services such as medical and care, which could be more difficult living alone and outside of a community like Southwood. Residents’ welfare needs are our priority and we want residents to be able to live independently as long as they can.

Read more about almshouses and The Printing Charity’s rich almshouse history.

Happiness at work- Rising Star winner Grace shares her tips

Happiness at work- Rising Star winner Grace shares her tips

Grace Balfour-Harle works in children’s publishing and was named a Rising Star in 2019. Here she shares advice and guidance on how to find happiness while working. 

Most people would believe working at the Beano is the happiest job on Earth. There is an intrinsic joy in everything we do in the comic, but it can be hard, like all jobs. Sometimes things get stressful, or you can get behind meaning it can be hard to remain positive about my job all the time. 

When I’ve had a period of being particularly stressed, I need to find a way to reset. I find reconnecting with Beano’s fun mission really helps with that. This can come from an unlikely source – a conversation with someone, a blog post I’m writing, or even just talking about the things I like about my job. Sometimes, I go back through the emails from kids and just seeing their enthusiasm for all things Beano is enough.

Keeping everything in perspective really helps – I have friends who are doctors, nurses or psychologists in the NHS. Hearing about their jobs just reminds me how low stress my job is in comparison. It doesn’t invalidate the stress I’m feeling, but having a sense of perspective aligns with the pragmatist in me and relieves some of the pressure I put on myself.

Work life balance

The key to finding happiness at work is to have things outside of work that bring you joy. For me, it’s dance and physical exercise (which I don’t do enough of). I rediscovered yoga in lockdown after stopping it in my teens, and it has totally revolutionised my way of thinking. Being kind to myself for just showing up and trying is a freeing feeling and allows me to just enjoy without a sense of pressure to progress quickly.

Having some sort of creative outlet outside of work always helps me within work. I joined a Zoom choir, took part in my work book club, and taught a dance class to name a few creative endeavours. I also made myself spend time outside every day in some way – which is incredibly beneficial to your mental well-being, especially when working from home.

Finding my confidence

One of the best things that keeps me happy at work is facing a new challenge – and that can often come through training. Last year, The Printing Charity awarded me a Rising Star Award and it kickstarted my personal development plan. I got to attend courses that I had always wanted to attend, meet people and gain some fantastic knowledge. But the most important thing the award gave me was confidence. Confidence to ask about things, to speak up when I know an answer, and to also believe that I am worth investing in, instead of listing all the reasons I was not. 

As a result of that confidence boost from The Printing Charity, I applied to be on the committee for the Society of Young Publishers Scotland, and this year, I am now one of the Co-Chairs – which is a brand new challenge in itself. So, as part of World Gratitude Day, thank you again to The Printing Charity for their support over the last couple of years – it has been invaluable. 

Know when to seek support

Happiness in work is a tough thing to get right, because most jobs by their nature can be stressful, and stress and happiness don’t tend to go together. I think being passionate about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and reconnecting with the spark that first drew you to that industry will help ignite your happy feeling about work. However, if you are consistently finding that difficult, or feel that you’re unable to feel excited about what you’re doing – don’t be afraid to seek support. Your happiness and personal wellbeing is the most important in your life, far beyond your job – never forget that.