Latest News and Info

Things are heating up in our workshops and mosaic studio

We have some great courses and workshops now listed on Eventbrite.


Whether you’re keen to learn how to decorate, work with metal or learn to mosaic we have a range of short workshops and longer courses listed throughout July, August and September. Even with the lifting of restrictions we have decided to keep our workshop/ course sizes small for covid safety.

Why not try your hand at copper smithing; either book onto a taster session or delve straight in to our 2 day course. We had some great feedback from when we ran the course last month

‘I enjoyed creating something from initial conception/ idea to final product’

‘I loved the freedom to make my own design’

Decorating Courses

We have taken the feedback from our decorating courses and have adapted the workshops, and we’re offering the following:

Beginners guide to painting & decorating

Cutting in Masterclass

Ceilings and Walls; an in depth masterclass

And will soon be listing a specific doors and woodwork course and tips and tricks.

Mosaic courses are now listed up until November

We are yet to find a way to make children’s mosaic courses cost effective, watch this space!

Other courses

This month and next we will be welcoming some new facilitators to LifeHouse. We have a new Upcycling tutor and a tutor for our visible mending course- inspired by Japanese practice of Boro, which is the practice of repairing textiles through patching and stitches.  

Keep checking our social media as new courses are being added all the time. We are hoping to list a range of print workshops from August but in the meantime we sell lino kits so you can get creative at home.

The floating bed, climbing wall and a garden of dreams

Last summer Helen Skelton got in touch to ask our advice on paint, colours and bespoke wardrobes. Off we went to Helen’s house (which is amazing and possibly has the best garden my son and I have ever been in). We came away designing her son’s bedroom and supplying some paint (obvs).

Leon really went to town on this project, designing a suspended bunk bed with no nails. It became an exceptionally beautiful and well built bed. The pictures speak for themselves.

And Leon didn’t stop at the bed he built a climbing wall. Helen’s boys are whirlwinds of energy and they chatted to Leon whilst the build was underway. Somehow a climbing wall got flown into the mix.

It’s fair to say everyone was pleased with the end product and it was great that the bedroom got a more than just a mention in HELLO magazine!

Helen Skelton ‘spoils’ sons with unbelievable new bedroom feature | HELLO!


Staying safe: the serving hatch

Q) How can we keep our team safe and sell paint? 

A) A click and collect service.

Our serving hatch was one of the better things to have come out of last year. It was a fun way to keep staff and customers safe, in the days when it was click and collect only.

The hatch was the brainchild of Leon (Seagulls LifeHouse). He made it all from recycled materials (apart from the wheels and Perspex).

The serving hatch has been a great talking point and has the novelty factor. Leon says it was fun to build and it has been fun to use in lockdown times and has meant we have been able to trade.

Most recently the hatch was been adapted into a bar for our open studio event and we hope it well get good use at this summer’s markets.

Have you got a slightly ‘whacky’ project, if so then get in touch!


Why Big Business Should Work With Us

Throughout the past decade, the world of business has seen a dramatic shift in the way corporations tackle certain key challenges.

From Ocado’s waste management strategy – something that has seen the retailer’s food wastage levels fall below 0.02% – to Bridgestone’s pledge to recycle one tyre for each tyre sold, it’s great to see so many large corporations taking positive action in a bid to improve the planet for good.

 Here at Seagulls Reuse we endorse the actions of these companies wholeheartedly but appreciate that there may still be some way to go, especially in the UK.

 For every corporation going out of its way to build a better brighter future, there remains a considerable number that refuse to change. For us this represents one of our greatest challenges as a company – encouraging more and more corporations to adopt a new way of thinking, to help secure a better world for future generations.

 Whether you work at a large corporation or even a small local business, making a small change can often have a lasting impact. That’s why we’ve created this short blog, detailing just a number of reasons why we believe working with Seagulls Reuse can help to improve not just your business’ image, but the impact it has on the planet as a whole.

We Grow People

Before we talk about money and how using recycled paint can help to increase profits, we first need to discuss the most prized asset of all – our people.

Here at Seagulls Reuse we grow people, helping to transform the lives of those affected by poverty, mental health issues and other barriers to employment through good, old-fashioned graft.

Working with volunteers, we work hard to ensure that those with even the most challenging of CVs have a platform on which they can build their future. We restore people’s confidence, pride and self-worth, which in turn helps to transform their career prospects moving forward.

By working with us, you’ll be enabling us to take on even more volunteers. Not only will this help to improve the lives of those we work with, but the communities they rely on too.

As our reputation grows, we want people to grow with us too – and that includes you.

Use Seagulls, save money

We get it, money talks. Which is precisely why corporations love working with us!

At Seagulls Reuse we supply 170 tonnes of recycled and collected paint each and every year – all of which is sold at a fraction of the cost compared to other, traditional paint shops. For corporations, this is great news – especially if you happen to work in the manufacturing trade, construction or even retail.

Whether you’re decorating your office block or developing a new housing estate, if you need paint at a discounted rate, contact Seagulls Reuse today and help to increase those all-important profit margins.

Take responsibility

Rising sea levels. Turbulent weather conditions. Famine and poverty. Since the industrial revolution, the impact that big business has had on the environment has been truly devastating – which is perhaps why so many corporations across the globe are now starting to take responsibility when it comes to looking after the planet.

By working with Seagulls Reuse, following in the footsteps of Ocado and Bridgestone has never been easier. Not only will working with us help to reduce the amount of paint that’s currently wasted throughout the industry, it will also help to reduce the crippling levels of CO2 it takes to manufacture it too.

In turn we believe that this will help our global community turn the tide of global warming, enabling us to create a better world for future generations, as well as the businesses destined to operate within it.

Our mission

Seagulls is an environmental social enterprise. We run our business with the 3 P’s in mind: Planet, People, Profit. We love the environment and will go out of our way to protect it. That’s why we started creating these blogs in the first place, and why we won’t stop until we start to see clear signs of the positive change we’re constantly campaigning for.

By sharing this article you’ll be helping to share our company’s ethos with the UK’s most influential CEOs – encouraging them to choose a responsible supplier for their company in the future.

We Grow People

Seagulls is a unique place to work. We pick people up and support them in playing a positive role within the community whilst providing tangible benefits to the environement. People are the heart and sole of Seagulls. This blog reflects on the work we do and the people we work with.

Seagulls was established and developed on a voluntary basis by Cat and Kate. Neither of us had prior business or project development experience so we quickly learned to ask for help and this approach to business has been inspiring for staff and volunteers (if we can do it, so can you!). Seagulls has grown organically with our feet firmly within the Leeds community we aim to support. Our grassroots beginnings have meant we are well placed to deliver services that respond to local need.

Historically we have always developed a volunteer’s skills and confidence so that they are working towards being employment ready and 90% of our staff team have volunteered for the enterprise. Because the majority of our staff team have faced barriers to engagement in society and employment we are able to demonstrate a unique level of understanding and empathy with new recruits, making people feel at ease very quickly.

We call ourselves the last chance saloon; working with people who are often isolated and marginalised for many different reasons: mental health problems, learning disability, prisoners on ROTL, ex offenders, young people (NEETS) and long term unemployed. We offer support and volunteering opportunities for lost and vulnerable people. It’s no exaggeration to say that people walk into Seagulls and almost instantly feel at ease and supported. We foster a friendly and holistic work place that enables us to reach some of the most damaged and vulnerable people in society. We meaningfully support people who are excluded and are facing very real barriers to engagement so that they begin to feel valued, brighter and more confident both in work and at home.

We have a long track record of working with people and our volunteer programme ‘We Grow People’ has been developed out of our own experiences as volunteers and those of our employees that we have worked with over the years. We now specialise in working with the people mentioned above, recognising that many of the people who come through our doors lead often chaotic lifestyles and live in poverty. They may also have never had a job, lack basic skills and confidence and are anxious around people. We work with people well before they are employment ready and our holistic programme looks at helping breakdown barriers and building people from the bottom up.

We believe Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy is very important and help volunteers on a practical level so that they are able to engage meaningfully when volunteering.We recognise people as individuals and not just a box ticking exercise, we aim to change behaviour over an unspecified period of time, giving people the space to grow at their own pace.

Rick, one of our volunteers sums up his experience at Seagulls very succinctly:

“Come and spend a day at Seagulls, it’s dirty work BUT it is sooooo rewarding. Seagulls REALLY do GROW PEOPLE. I knew nothing about the world of re- used paint when I started volunteering. I’m learning loads, my confidence is going up and the “team” are just awesome!! Everyday we reduce the amount of paint that would otherwise be wasted and recycle it…Fantastic place!”

It’s statements like this that make our work worthwhile.

The World can always benefit from more colour

Blog Post by Journalist Lauren Entwistle

Sometimes the world can do with a bit more colour – which is exactly what Seagulls Reuse has been doing for the past seventeen years. Developed by Cat and Kate around the latter’s kitchen table back in 2001, the enterprise collects and reuses paint that would otherwise go straight on the landfill, which has since grown into an established and well-loved social endeavor.Cat, Kate and the Seagulls Team have been hard at work diverting over 900,000 litres of paint for reuse in that time, having worked with over 500 volunteers and now providing employment for a team of 18. In addition to paint, the enterprise also runs a community arts project: Seagulls Mosaic, creating beautiful murals and installations with the public that have brightened up many a dull corner across Leeds.

All profit that Seagulls Reuse makes (whether it’s from paint sales or mosaic workshops) gets put back into the business, which sustains a fantastic volunteer program that benefits both people and the planet – so what’s not to love?

Despite having gone from strength to strength, the team aren’t resting on their laurels anytime soon. In fact, they’re hoping to expand on the work they’ve already done – but Seagulls can’t do it alone. From their base at Aire Mills, Seagulls Reuse plans to utilise new and additional space to fulfil their vision of helping as many people as possible. That’s where you come in.

Cat, Kate and the team hope to raise £50,000 in order to push the project further through a crowdfunding campaign. This money will go towards building a new paint reprocessing and storage area that will enable them to move the majority of paint mixing out of the paint store (which will then be improved) and build two more workshops for screen printing and upcycling furniture. They also want to create a relaxed social area for volunteers and staff, who are arguably at the heart of the enterprise, and finally set up a plastic refill shop – starting with their most popular basic refills but then looking to expand product range of reusable and environmentally friendly products.

It’s a big ask, but it’s a big feat – more and more paint comes through Seagulls’ doors every day, which means the team has to ensure it has enough resources to continue doing great work. They’ve taken on the space needed to do this and now need funds to make these ideas a reality.

After all, the team are a tough, hardworking bunch. They suffered a huge hit as a result of the Boxing Day Floods in 2015, submerging all of Seagulls underwater (in some areas paint pots were bobbing in water over a metre deep!) But with the kindness and willingness of people, including a good bit of elbow grease, they were back up and running within two weeks.

The spirit of “people power” is a huge part of what makes Seagulls great. You can be part of that.

So, to show their appreciation for your kindness in helping them out, Seagulls are offering a number of “perks” through their crowdfunding Indiegogo page. There are multiple levels of donations, going from that £5 you would’ve spent on a guilty frothy coffee to a £1,000 – but you’ll get something back, too. You can get your hands on liters of paint, to framed prints featuring photography from their gorgeous “Beauty From The Flood” exhibition, upcycled retro furniture and even quirky little Seagulls pins to show your good deed off in style. More perks will be added as the campaign grows, so all the more reason to indulge your “giving glow.”

But even if you can’t donate you can still help Seagulls Reuse achieve their vision. Come and buy your paint from the store, tell everyone you can about their fantastic plastic refill shop, try your hand at mosaic or upcycling at one of their workshops – or even come along and volunteer a few hours of your time to help out the team.

Cat and Kate are a passionate duo, and are exceedingly proud that Seagulls manages to juggle a triple bottom line: Planet People Profit. But in order to build momentum for their enterprise and ensure its stability for the next 20 years, they need your donations. Every pound you give makes a huge difference to this fantastic social cause, which brilliantly helps a huge variety of people while saving the environment that we live in.

Be grateful: Messages of Hope

In spring 2016 we were successful in securing funding from our local Councillors to undertake a large scale community art installation on a falling down wall in the heart of Kirkstall, by the Drink and Be Grateful fountain. Several of our regular ‘mosaicers’ who live in the area worked on the design, mosaic and helped install the work. The Be Grateful text was designed and worked on pre Brexit (and Trump) and so for us and many others it has taken on a new significance in the current world events. It’s a small reminder to people driving and walking past the installation to stop and think; most often there is someone worse off than you and yes, we do have things to be grateful for. A Message of Hope in troubling and fragmented times.

Over the course of several weeks we worked in 2 local primary schools (with over 250 children), Hollybush Conservation Centre, Hawksworth Older People’s group, The Bridge Inn and open workshops at Seagulls. A LOT of ‘mosaicing’ fun was had by people of all ages and abilities.

Seagulls staff and volunteers (like a well oiled machine) installed the mosaic. We were lucky enough for the sun to shine and it was amazing to see the mosaic appear on the wall. It took us just 2 attempts to get the blue background tone right but we think it is the perfect complimenting colour to the mosaic. The photos speak for themselves and we have had many positive comments and lots of lovely feedback.

We’re now hoping to spread Messages of Hope across the city so if you have a wall or message in mind we’d love to hear from you.

Beauty from the Flood

An exhibition of our flood art and accidental art

It was not the best start to 2016 but from every disaster springs new opportunities. The flood came at a time when we were becoming better at documenting our enterprise and had been posting images on Instagram of accidental art under the #accidentalart.

The flood gave us plenty of opportunities to create some visually beautiful images all created accidentally, as a buy product to the waste or residue of what’s been left behind. Over the year we have been working with renowned screen printer Jonny Akers to produce a series of screen prints based on our flood and accidental art. The show will be the first exhibtion to be held in our new art gallery and will be officially opend by Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council.

The Boxing Day Floods

A crazy end for 2015 and a tough beginning to 2016!

The Boxing Day floods took us all be surprise. One minute I was driving home and the next I was on a rescue mission to save our van. The water rose quickly and unluckily for us our mill yard backs directly onto the river. Thankfully there was enough time to save our van from the yard before the floods engulfed our buildings and the surrounding area. It was all very surreal, like nothing we had ever seen before. Kate and I spent  Boxing Day evening on the phone to each other worrying, our 2 main concerns were about our health and safety- were we turning the flood water into a rainbow and could the old Victorian drainage system contain the sewage? When we managed to reach the yard 48 hours later we experienced relief that we were only confronted with mud, water and chaos of fixtures and fittings. Our health and safety had been exlemporary, there were no significant paint spillages and there was no sewage, phew!

Muddy river water was everywhere: our arts studio, storage rooms and paint disposal area had been submerged in over 1 metre of water and our paint store had been under approximately 70cm. In the yard whole IBC’s of paint had been picked up and upturned, with amazingly no paint spillages (due to our health and safety standards).

There was an over whelming feeling of disbelief in the yard and wider community that this was actually happening. A community flood response centre was set up at Open Source, (a social enterprise in the yard) becoming the nerve centre for the flood action group: supplies, resources, volunteers, communication and management coming out of Aire Place Mills.

After the feelings of relief subsided we were faced with the daunting task of how to proceed. There was mud and water everywhere, our arts workshop ruined and hundreds of paint pots ruined or covered in mud and it was cold. We were lucky it happened during the Christmas holidays as the support from local people was overwhelming and saw us through the moments of despair. We had been lucky, our office is on a mezzanine and we don’t have expensive machinery. There were many business much less fortunate than ours.

We were also lucky to be in the yard when a team of volunteers turned up from Trinity shopping centre. We call them our knights in shining armour as they brought large industrial cleaning machines to our paint store. They worked tirelessly with a T3 and Jet wash to eradicate our warehouses of mud. Roger and his team saved us weeks and weeks of work and we are forever grateful.

We are also  grateful to Leeds City Council for letting us fill approximately 5 skips of damaged furniture, materials, art supplies and wood, all ruined by flood water. We felt supported by the council and got both financial and practical support.

It was clear in the immediate aftermath that many things would need replacing. We had to dispose of several tonnes of paint, replace the shop counter and shelving and pretty much start a fresh with our arts studio. We set up a Crowd Funding page and were amazed at the response. We have also been fortunate to receive flood funds from Leeds City Council, Leeds Community Foundation and The Rotary Club.

The Gallery

Our new venture

Out of the flood a new and exciting venture emerged for Seagulls. We have been lucky enough to take on an extra building and have been busily developing our latest expansion: The Gallery, an exhibtion and workshop space for community and artists to use.

Over the last 5 months we have been beavering away working out how we can make this venture work. We are keen to develop our brand and have a vision in mind. Its only draw back is the lack of heating and therefore extreme cold in winter.

So far we have cleaned the space, white washed a few walls and run an upcycling workshop to celebrate Social Saturday. Our Beauty From The Flood exhibition officially makes The Gallery open to the public.

We are working with the Leeds based artist Leon Varga on a collaboration to produce an exhibition exploring identity, print and portraiture in relation to Seagulls staff and volunteers. The exhibition is set for April 2017.

We are hoping to develop the space for visiting artists to exhibit their work and have a series of shows throughout the year. This is in the early stages, so criteria and costs are still be worked on. Please do enquire if you have an exhibition in mind.

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