- Ocean Publishing
- Real Ideas Organisation
- Slate Publishing
Briefly describe your project
We are installing two historic letterpress printing presses in the café area of Ocean Studios. These will power a project involving printing, writing and poetry classes and opportunities for individuals to self-publish.
The availability of books is crucial for Stonehouse because the district has no public library; this is at a time when literacy levels are of concern in Plymouth and elsewhere.
Writing, reading and self-expression will be central to our collaborations with community groups, individuals, and schools.
The project hopes to achieve the following:
1 Help to increase the level of literacy in Stonehouse.
According to Plymouth City Council’s neighbourhood statistics (2020), Stonehouse was the most deprived area in the city, and outside the city centre, was the area most affected by crime.
Precise literacy statistics for Plymouth districts don’t exist, but we do know that research by the Plymouth Children in Poverty organisation, set up in 2020, shows:
• 71% of convicted youth offenders have communication and literacy barriers.
• 54% of children from a disadvantaged background did not meet a basic reading standard at the end of KS1 (SATS papers Year 2).
• Children who own a book at home are six times more likely to read above the level.
There is a recognised link between deprivation and literacy, and we believe our project will make a difference in Stonehouse.
2 Raise the appreciation of reading and writing literature – learning through practice. Poster and social media campaign to run alongside workshops.
3 Connect with the ‘making’ activities of the recently reorganised Ocean Studios.
4 Improve wellbeing – by helping individuals learn by ‘doing and making’.
5 Reduce the effects of social isolation still present from the pandemic through workshops and meetings. This continues to be a priority for many community groups.
6 We hope to launch several collaborations, primarily in volunteering and other literary community groups.
7 Offer a unique hands-on approach to publishing; training will be available in letterpress composition and printing techniques. New skills and confidence will give individuals the skills to express themselves.
How did the partnership come about
The partnership came about because of the acquisition of an automatic printing press by Alan Qualtrough, who is a studio holder at Ocean Studios, where he runs a small letterpress studio.
A reorganisation was underway at Ocean Studios, which presented opportunities for installing the machine in a public area.
At first, this appeared to be a modest increase in printing capacity at Ocean Studios. Still, once Emma Whitehead became involved in the proposal, a different scale of opportunity arose.
Emma’s company – Slate Publishing – represent a broad spectrum of writers, particularly those from challenging socio-economic backgrounds, LGBTQ communities, and ethnic groups that have historically been minoritised throughout the publishing industry.
Emma also has many books, enough to create a substantial library.
An informal meeting was held between the three potential partners. As a result, a beneficial collaboration could be formed that brought together many skills that could be utilised by the Real Ideas networks.
The combined skills and resources include:
• Creative writing (including poetry) and critical studies.
• Publishing (private and community).
• Letterpress composing and printing.
• Graphic design.
• Equipment such as presses and books.
• Social enterprise skills.
• Community connections in Stonehouse.
• Restorative practice to support mental health.
• A common goal of giving people a voice.
Coaching in ongoing evaluation of the project and its effectiveness, particularly with regard to community-based activities.