14 August 2015
Young Gloucestershire is all about giving chances to young people. It is the core of our work and personally, one of the main reasons I love working here. And this is definitely the case with our new social enterprise venture.
In partnership with Commercial Group, we have established a digital print and branded merchandise company, We Do Print, staffed by volunteers aged 16-25, who take the lead in the day-to-day running of the business while gaining employability qualifications. They deal with customers and suppliers, produce quotes, design products, source equipment and project manage the production and despatch of items. It is a chance for real world, extended and immersive work experience with professional training and support. Nat and Luke, from our partners Commercial, have been working their socks off getting the project off the ground and their passion and commitment shines through daily.
We are half way through our 8 week project and the volunteers are getting their heads around all aspects of the business, from using the dye sublimation press, the enormous Xerox machine, the mug press and guillotine, in addition to all the new pieces of software and most excitingly, the 3D printer. Just in the last week, while completing orders and establishing accounts with various companies around the country, the group have designed the workwear for themselves and future teams, started legacy and sustainability projects and started thinking about their next steps, whether that is establishing their own businesses or moving into apprenticeships to apply their new skills.
It has been a fairly steep learning curve for me too, as my experience in the digital print business was limited to say the least. But the amazing thing has been the young people being able to teach me about all the various (mildly intimidating) pieces of equipment as they learn. The building is full of industry relevant terms, impassioned discussions about quality control, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit and young people are demonstrating a passion for their futures.
Some busy days of production lie ahead of us, with the distinct possibility of some late nights and there are multiple projects with varied deadlines, but the We Do Print team are definitely ready for the challenge!