A young man from Rotherham, Lewis Houghton, has secured a book deal in the U.S. after setting up an illustration business with help from youth charity The Prince’s Trust and The Printing Charity, a national charity for people in printing, publishing, packaging, graphic arts and allied trades.
Lewis Houghton, 25, is one of more than 100 young people in the region to set up print-related businesses with help from the two charities.
From a young age, Lewis used drawing as an escape route from his depression and difficulties at home. Lewis was home-schooled and entered the world of work at 16 without any formal qualifications or basic grades in Maths and English.
Faced with unemployment, Lewis took on some temporary job opportunities including labouring and cleaning but struggled to secure permanent work. Possessing little confidence or self-esteem, he rarely showed people his illustrations for fear of how they would respond. However, after he confided in a friend that he would love to start his own business, she convinced him to contact The Prince’s Trust. Within weeks Lewis had joined The Prince’s Trust four day Enterprise programme, which supports unemployed 18-30 year olds interested in self-employment. He set about developing some customised drawings and an illustration service for publishers.
After completing his business plan, Lewis was awarded a £650 grant from The Printing Charity who, in partnership with The Prince’s Trust, helps disadvantaged young people in the North of England set up their own print-related businesses. Lewis was able to invest in essential specialist illustration tools to help make his dreams a reality. He based his paper doll illustrations on children’s books to make the business more relevant and began posting his work on social media sites. Lewis’s talent soon caught the attention of an award-winning children’s author in America who has now commissioned Lewis to illustrate his next 12 books.
Lewis says: “I always wanted to start my own business but didn’t think I was smart enough so when I found The Prince’s Trust I thought, it’s now or never. I’m creative rather than business-minded so it was great to have support in being more business savvy. If it wasn’t for the grant from The Printing Charity, I wouldn’t be working for a world-famous author so I’m hugely grateful for all the support I’ve received.”
Lucy Hornsby, Head of Philanthropy at The Prince’s Trust, says: “Setting up in business can be an escape route out of unemployment – and a positive step towards success. Lewis is an inspirational example of just how much can be achieved. Youth unemployment is a worrying issue so young people need all the support they can get to help them find work or indeed create their own jobs. For this reason we’re thrilled to continue our work with The Printing Charity.”
Mark Johnson, The Printing Charity’s Helps and Futures Manager, says: “Our successful partnership with The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme is an important part of our work in the North of England. Since 2012 we have been providing grants to help unemployed young people in the region set up their own businesses in sectors such as printing, publishing, photography or graphic design.”
Youth charity The Prince’s Trust helps disadvantaged young people to get their lives on track. The Prince’s Trust’s programmes give vulnerable young people the practical and financial support needed to stabilise their lives, helping develop self-esteem and skills for work. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training.