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.