“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. 

“Support from The Printing Charity this past year has been essential in allowing me to see things more rationally and thoughtfully”

“Support from The Printing Charity this past year has been essential in allowing me to see things more rationally and thoughtfully”

Photographer Patrick Dowse is the recipient of the 2020 Stationers’ Bursary award, a grant administered by Stationers’ foundation and funded by The Printing Charity for young people on MA courses leading to careers in digital media and print. We spoke to him about his work and how the award will help support his career. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the industry?

I am a documentary photographer from the North-East of England currently based in London.  I work on a range of long term projects ranging from documenting working-class heritage in my home region of County Durham to more local work photographing life in London and the surrounding area.

I moved to London in 2014 to study at the University of the Arts, London, where I studied Documentary Photography. The main reason I moved here was to move to a city I didn’t have any familiarity with and throw myself out of my comfort zone from a small town of 30,000 people to one of the biggest metropolises in the world.

After graduating from university, I soon realised that making a career in the creative industry demanded a lot of perseverance and hard work. I took jobs in art galleries as an invigilator, working freelance in photography studios and some freelance work with photographers (after pestering them to allow me to shadow them).

Work combined with networking at photography gallery private views and portfolio review led to opportunities that allowed me to progress in my career.

What is the bursary going to allow you to do?

The Stationers Bursary will allow me to focus on my studies. I originally planned to study and work full-time, which would have conflicted with my degree and ultimately affected my grades.

The backing of the Stationers Company means that I can work within the industry to aid me in the start of my career, but also focus my time on my Documentary Photography and Photojournalism MA at University of Westminster, which I feel incredibly honoured and lucky to be doing.

Where do you turn for support in your career?

Before the pandemic hit, I was starting to feel like I was making real progress in my career. The pandemic has completely changed the paradigm of work in the 21st century. An essential part of the creative industry, networking with industry contacts in person, is currently on hold.

I turned to The Printing Charity, and received mentoring from Neil Lovell. His support this past year has been essential in allowing me to see things more rationally and thoughtfully. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge and has advised me about career choices and work questions.

Do you have anyone that you look up to in the industry?

Chris Steele-Perkins, Magnum Photographer, has been a mentor to me for the past five years. I started assisting Chris during my second year of university after a peer told me a photographer was looking for an assistant on a major project. I fired my CV to him, and the rest is history.

Chris helps me with photographic work, career advice and is an excellent example of what a photographer can really be and what they can achieve with hard work and perseverance.

I also look up to photographers who are a little older than me or a similar age, such as Lewis Khan, Cian Oba-Smith, and my good friend, Lewis Inman. Their photographic work and determination is a driving force in helping me become a better photographer in the 21st century.

What are your aspirations for the future of your career?

My ideal job situation would be to make a living as a documentary photographer and a commercial photographer. I have also always wanted to get into teaching. Becoming a teacher or working in photographic education and supporting the next generation of creatives would be a wonderful thing to do.

Find out about the Stationers Bursary and how else we support people in our industry. 

Be part of Cycle to Work Day

Be part of Cycle to Work Day

We all know the benefits of exercise and being active in our lives but despite that, we often lack the motivation to get up and do it.

National Cycle to Work Day aims to show just how easily we can fit exercise into our day-to-day schedule. On the 5th August, they are asking us to cycle to work, be more active and boost our overall wellbeing and productivity. 

Benefits of cycling 

As someone who regularly cycles to work, Mark Roberts, Managing Director of Acorn Web Offset, wouldn’t travel any other way; “Since I started cycling seriously on the road in 2014, I’ve incorporated cycling into my commute to work. I try to cycle to work between two to three times per week come rain or shine. My journey into work is just short of 10 miles and I usually add a bit up on my way home covering between 15-35 miles. It’s certainly helping me reach my target of 5,000 miles on the bike this year. I expect to pass the 4,000 miles mark before the end of July”.

Cycling is a fast way to travel, while being much kinder to the environment. For Mark however, it’s the benefits to his mental health he sees the most; “Not only is this great for the environment and my wallet, it really is a great way to set me up for the day ahead and helps clear my mind after a busy day in the office.” 

How to get motivated

So you now know the benefits, but still find it difficult to jump on the saddle. Don’t worry, Mark has some advice to help get the pedals turning. “I find the key is to plan ahead. I take food into work on non-cycling days to reduce the size of my pack when I do cycle, and always keep a set of clothes at work to change into. Don’t use the lack of showers at work as a reason not to cycle as I find a good old fashioned flannel wash with soap and water over the sink is sufficient to ensure you are nice and clean for the day ahead.”

Get involved

​​Take part in the UK’s biggest cycle commuting event on the 5th August, and join the thousands of people giving cycling a go. There’s even a Love to Ride online community where you can get more advice and share your times. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t cycled in years or have never cycled at all, this is just about giving it a go.


SYP mentorship programme is open for applications

SYP mentorship programme is open for applications

Are you in publishing and in need of some career advice and guidance? Apply now for a place on the SYP Mentorship Scheme. 

For the second year, the SYP mentorship programme is open to applicants from any region of the UK or Ireland, regardless of whether they are SYP members. The mentorship scheme is due to start in September 2021 and will be ongoing for the following six months.

Applications for all regions are now open, excluding Scotland, whose mentorship scheme will run later in the year. Registration closes on Monday, 26 July, at 11.59pm.

Aspiring publishers will be matched with experts in the industry to receive personalised, structured careers guidance.

To make sure mentees get the most appropriate mentor for their level of experience, the scheme is split into three strands:

● INTO: For aspiring publishers looking to land their first role in the industry
● AHEAD: For publishers in the first few years of their publishing career, looking for advice on how to progress to the next level or try a new role or specialism
● LAUNCH: For freelancers, entrepreneurs or anyone who wants to get started in publishing without following a traditional in-house route

You can apply now for a place on the SYP Mentorship Scheme here.

“We hope our scheme this year is as successful and rewarding for both mentors and mentees as it was last year.”

Iram Satti, UK mentorship lead, and the UK chairs, Tanu Shelar and Amalia Mihailescu, said: “The mentorship scheme is back for a second year across the UK, and we couldn’t be more excited. The scheme ran brilliantly last year and we want to continue to bring this great opportunity to aspiring and current publishers across the UK. Historically, location has been a barrier but if we learnt anything from the last 18 months, this is no longer the case for anyone aspiring to have a career in this dynamic and exciting industry.”

“The UK branch are proud to be hosting both INTO and AHEAD this year for those looking to enter the industry and for those already employed who may want advice on progression.”

Amy Potter and Natalie Dale, South West committee chairs, said:

“Following our successful first mentorship scheme last year, the South West committee is very excited to continue with their INTO and AHEAD strands. The mentors we have lined up this year are all professionals from across the industry, from freelance writers, commissioning editors, design specialists, and publishers, to a few. Many of our mentors from last year have come back to continue the scheme after a successful first year. We hope our scheme this year is as successful and rewarding for both mentors and mentees as it was last year.”

Caroline Guillet and Charlotte Parr SYP Oxford co-chairs, said: “We are thrilled to be launching the INTO strand as it perfectly resonates with our student-led audience who are working very hard to get their first job in the industry.”

Omara Elling-Hwang and Farzana Khan, SYP London co-chairs, said: “SYP London are so excited to be bringing back all three of our mentorship streams for 2021: INTO, AHEAD and unique to London, LAUNCH.”

“We’re excited to help connect people and stimulate the exchange of ideas, tips and insight.”

Elizabeth Beck and Rosie Hilton SYP North co-chairs, said: ‘After such a successful first year of the SYP mentorship scheme’s expansion into the northern branch in 2020, we are so excited to welcome a new cohort of mentors, to welcome back some wonderful mentors, and to bring on some brilliant new mentors as well.”

Elizabeth Goldrick, SYP Ireland chair, said: “This is the second year the Ireland committee are offering the mentorship programme and this year we are running both INTO and AHEAD streams. We’re excited to help connect people and stimulate the exchange of ideas, tips and insight.”

SYP Scotland co-chairs Sonali Misra and Grace Balfour-Harle, said: “After the success of our fully digital mentorship scheme last year, we’re thrilled to launch the eighth edition of our INTO scheme in October, with applications for mentees opening on 20 August. This year, we’re excited to also organise the AHEAD scheme, which will take place simultaneously.”