Case Studies

Cultural Wellbeing Grants Supports ‘Interconnected: York’s Story Circle’

As part of the launch of York’s Culture Strategy ‘York’s Creative Future’, through the Better Care Fund, Make It York and City of York Council awarded funding of more than £10,000 to seven social and cultural initiatives across the city – with the aim of easing loneliness, isolation and mental ill-health during the winter months. 

The grants were set up in recognition of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on people’s wellbeing – through shielding, self-isolation and social distancing. 

One project the grant scheme supported was ‘Interconnected: York’s Story Circle’ led by arts organisation Dandelion Arts. The intergenerational project set out to share the life stories of some of York’s amazing older residents – working with young people across the city to create interactive video content based on real interviews which were then shared in nine of York’s local care homes.  

Full of memories, heart and song, the project focuses on bringing to life the stories of York residents – sharing their lives, memories and experiences. The first episode features Maureen’s story, who is an 80-year-old York resident, as she reminisces about growing up in the city in the 1940s and 50s. Maureen’s story was captured and turned into a monologue, which is then acted out by 24 year old student Annie. Talking points based on the story are also filmed with pupils from Fulford School and Vale of York School (12-15 year olds), so that care home residents can then reflect, reminisce and discuss the themes explored together.  

Packs with reminiscence resources are also delivered to each care home to bring the stories to life and spark conversations. The packs include a range of interactive resources linked to the life stories being shared – from ration books and Terry’s Chocolate oranges to Blackpool rock, memorabilia, photos and more – all carefully curated with the aim to engage and inspire those taking part.  

Katie Matthews Creative Director at Dandelion Arts said, “All life lessons come through stories, and this project has proved to be a really engaging way to bring together younger and older people across the city to share some of the fascinating stories of York residents. Raising the visibility of the elderly in the city and learning from them is incredibly important to us. Additionally we have found that this project goes some way to both reduce isolation and loneliness among older residents.  

Feedback shows that for our care home residents the stories really help to light up a part of their life that may not have been shined on for some time – sparking opportunities to reminisce together and talk about their experiences. The young people have also gained a lot from being involved – learning new things and developing a form of creative mentorship. 

We had already been running ‘I See You’, a project that took the stories of care home residents and made them into theatre performances with groups of local young people, but the grant from the Better Care Fund helped us to expand this concept, reaching more care homes across the city and developing the interactive video content and resource packs.  

Our resource packs are carefully curated with the aim of capturing the imagination and triggering memories for discussion – and it’s been lovely to get out to deliver these to care homes across the city and build those relationships. 

Thank you to the Better Care Fund for helping us to grow the project and to all the care home residents and young people who’ve gotten involved with such enthusiasm and passion over the last few months.” 

The second episode launched at the end of March – focusing on Irene’s story, who at 99 is one of the oldest people involved in the project. Irene tells her story of living in Fulford – with Izzy (aged 15) acting out her experiences. 

In addition to ‘Interconnected: York’s Story Circle’, Dandelion Arts are working on a number of other projects with opportunities for people in the city to get involved – including the ongoing ‘I See You’ project to bringing together young and old people to explore life stories through drama. ‘Community Smiles: Bigger Picture Project’, is also currently running in partnership with Local Area Coordinators to give individuals who may be suffering from anxiety or other mental health issues the opportunity to create bespoke pieces of art. The art is printed onto cards, given to school groups, and sent to residents in care homes across the city.  

For more information about the charity visit or email for more information.  

Meet the Shambles Market Trader: John Mannion

From as far back as 1906, the Mannion family have held stalls on York’s city centre – and in 1970, John Mannion took over the business from his father, offering a wide range of fresh, locally sourced fruit and vegetables.

Now John and his wife Jean are on Shambles Market every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, providing customers with high quality goods and friendly customer service.

Throughout all the government lockdowns over the last twelve months they have remained open in all weathers and have worked hard to ensure local people could get their fresh produce each week. With their fresh deliveries coming in from Leeds market, John ensures he has a choice selection of the very best goods from all over Europe and beyond for his customers.

John Mannion comments:

“We’ve seen a lot of change over the years but my favourite thing about trading on Shambles Market has always been getting to meet so many new people and chatting to our customers. I’ve lived in York all my life so have lots of knowledge about the local area and love to chat to people and share info and expertise about the city.

The market has a really unique blend of traders and an outstanding fresh produce selection. With the likes of Cross of York offering fresh fish that is second to none, and the wonderful fresh meat and cheese counters – the market has such a fantastic offer for local people during lockdown.

Whilst the pandemic has had a big impact and has been tough, we’ve continued to provide high quality produce for our customers throughout. I love what I do – being out in all weathers, meeting new people and seeing our regular customers come back each week.

I’d like to thank all of our loyal customers for their ongoing support and to continue to encourage local York people to come down to the market to do their shopping and see what there is on offer.”

Find out more about Shambles Market here:

Case Study: We Drifters

We Drifters is a York-based premium clothing brand specialising in bamboo sleepwear with anti-insect technology to help keep bugs at bay. We Drifters founder, Naudia Salmon, first came up with the idea when travelling around South East Asia, exploring locations previously unknown to her. The place was infinitely beautiful, however one thing kept bugging Naudia – insects. Tired of spraying insect repellent, wearing restrictive head nets and squeezing into sleeping bag liners, she came up with an idea to create pyjamas with anti-insect technology to solve the problem. 

The business soft-launched in summer 2019, targeting UK travellers going abroad. However, with the coronavirus pandemic restricting international travel, Naudia decided to broaden the customer segments and target UK staycationers and the camping/glamping market. In summer 2020, We Drifters relocated to York due to its perfect position with a thriving start-up community, good links to other major cities in the UK and nature right on the doorstep. 

After relocating, Naudia focused on developing the B2B side of the business and started building relationships with wholesalers and travel agencies. To make connections and grow, Naudia has reached out to York’s business community by working with Make It York. 

Naudia says: “After moving our business to York, first and foremost we wanted to become a part of the city’s business community and networks, for which Make It York served as a perfect gateway. Christine Hogan from the Make It York business team helped us to better understand the place and offered crucial support in growing our business by introducing us to key contacts and organisations.” 

Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager at Make It York, has also introduced Naudia to Alice Ingram from the Ad:Venture programme, who in turn encouraged Naudia to apply for the BUILD accelerator programme for young businesses. The project has been designed to support early-stage founders to develop investable ideas which have a positive potential impact on people, planet and profit. It is one of the projects inspired by Leeds City Region’s involvement in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) prestigious Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP) – a global initiative designed to help regions accelerate economic growth through innovation-driven entrepreneurship. 

Naudia adds: “During the pandemic it is more important than ever to be able to talk to key people in the industry and get mentors’ support when growing your business. The programme also mixes purpose with profit, which was a perfect fit for We Drifters. On top of offering comfort and peace of mind, we aim to encourage social change in the field of travel health and wellbeing. We donate £2 from each of our sleepwear set sales to Malaria No More and plan to expand into more charitable initiatives as well as creating educational content around relevant topics.” 

The BUILD accelerator programme has proved to be the perfect match for us, and without Make It York and their networks, we would never have known about it. The Make It York team are the best at directing you to the right information and contacts that can help accelerate and grow your business. They open doors to so many new opportunities to develop and grow.” 

We Drifters currently sell their products online and have also been part of the Visit York Virtual Christmas Market during the 2020 festive season. Featuring on the virtual market and joining Visit York membership, helped We Drifters to become more prominent in the York community and make new connections to develop the B2B side of the business and for possible future collaborations. 

This year We Drifters are focused on developing their products, with the aim of introducing new versions of the sleepwear and adding a children’s product line to the portfolio. The company is focused on expanding and securing orders as well as making the product accessible to more people through using key channels in the staycation market. 

Looking into the future, Naudia has an ambition and desire to grow the company by creating more product categories and expanding to the global market. As a socially conscious organisation, We Drifters also aim to grow their charitable initiatives and drive innovation in fashion technology to help improve people’s lives. 

To find out more about We Drifters, visit: 

To learn more about the business support Make It York are offering and how our team can help your business, please visit or email

Cultural Wellbeing Grants Supports York Charity Musical Connections

As part of the launch of York’s Culture Strategy ‘York’s Creative Future’, Make It York and City of York Council awarded funding of more than £10,000 to seven social and cultural initiatives across the city – with the aim of easing loneliness, isolation and mental ill-health during the winter months. 

The grants, which were made available via the Better Care Fund, were set up in recognition of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on people’s wellbeing – through shielding, self-isolation and social distancing. 

One charity the grants supported was Musical Connections – an organisation which aims to empower people to lead happier, healthier lives through participation in music. First conceived in 2008, the organisation became a registered charity in 2016, offering a diverse musical programme which challenges age-related stereotypes and engages with older, vulnerable people in a fun and interactive way.  

The culture and wellbeing grant from City of York Council and Make It York enabled the charity to deliver a diverse package of social support and musical engagement to over 160 vulnerable older people, both on-and off-line, throughout the winter months. From online concerts and Christmas carolling to advent calendars and posting cards – the Musical Connections team have looked for new and creative ways to engage with their members during the pandemic.  

The diverse programme of activity over the last few months has included a fun virtual, intergenerational Christmas concert featuring contributions from members, musicians, local school children and university students. The concert was made available to watch online and was also sent out on DVD to members without internet access. The grant also enabled several days of doorstep carolling with 110 sheltered housing tenants, people living in the wider community and volunteers, entitled ‘Carols on the Road’. The Christmas joy continued with the creation of an online advent calendar, featuring contributions from members, schools, students and the Musical Connections musicians. Christmas cards and decorations were also sent out to members to help lift their spirits in the run up to the festive period.  

 The grant also enabled the charity to continue their regular Zoom coffee morning and singing sessions, as well as weekly Facebook Live singing sessions. A fabulous video round-up of 2020 was created, featuring Musical Connections photos, footage and themes, alongside key news events of the year, all set to a track, ‘These Days’, that the musicians recorded for their ‘Our Musical Family’ CD. Recently they also sent out to all members ‘Family Tree Photo Album’ cards in the post as a boost for the gloomy February months. Working with students from York University’s Music Education Group, the charity are now planning a virtual Spring concert which members can watch online at home.  

Fiona Chapman from Musical Connections said, “It was hugely important for us that we found new ways to continue to engage with our members when the pandemic hit, and the grant funding has really helped us to deliver this. Activities like the doorstep carolling where we could get out and see our members (at a distance!) were just fantastic and a great way to reconnect with the community. We have had such lovely feedback from our members about the work that we’ve been doing and how it has made such a huge difference to their wellbeing and mental health especially during lockdown.  

The pandemic has meant that we’ve had to look at innovative ways to engage with our members and be creative about the way we deliver our activity. This has included taking risks and learning new skills to help us create virtual content and videos for our members to enjoy from home.  We have such an amazing team that are really dedicated to supporting our members and they’ve worked so hard to adapt and find new ways to engage with our community.  

Looking ahead we are hoping to be able to building on our ‘MC on the Road’ activity and hopefully bring back our group sessions very soon when lockdown restrictions ease and it’s safe to all get together again.  

We call ourselves a family and whilst the pandemic has kept us apart physically, ‘Our Musical Family’ has continued to remain close – with musicians, members and volunteers coming together to keep each other going during this challenging time. We’d love our family to continue to grow in 2021 and anyone interested in joining our groups is always very welcome!”  

For more information about the charity visit or call 01904 373011 to find out more about how to participate with their activities.  

Case Study: Dorian Deathly

Dorian Deathly’s Deathly Dark Ghost Tour Walk of York is one of the latest great additions to the city’s ghost walks scene. Dorian Deathly has worked as a tour guide for over seven years and has always wanted to start his own ghost tour. In Europe’s most haunted city the demand for, as well as the supply of ghost tours is in abundance – a new entry point was needed that would help differentiate the Dorian Deathly’s Dark Tours from other ghost walks in York. Dorian Deathly has used his creativity, love for the city’s architecture and history and his passion for performing to design a family-friendly ghost tour – reminiscent of ‘horrible histories’ and one that combines entertainment with learning in a fun and engaging way.  

In the recent #LoveYork Awards hosted on social media by Visit York, Dorian Deathly’s Dark Tours won three Gold and one Silver awards, including the ‘Lockdown Hero’ award which celebrated initiatives that have positively impacted people and supported the community during 2020 and throughout the lockdowns. The Gold prize was awarded to Dorian Deathly for his free virtual ghost tours that have given people a moment of distraction, re-connected friends and families, brought York to those who’ve missed the city and created a community of like-minded people. The tours attracted a large number of fans – the tour’s Facebook page now has over 7,500 fans and growing.  

Dorian Deathly says:

“I feel very proud of winning the ‘Lockdown Hero’ award in #LoveYork Awards, however also slightly embarrassed – all nominations were amazing projects and initiatives that have supported the community through challenging times. The idea for the virtual tours actually came from a friend of mine who is a nurse. I saw how much of a toll the pandemic was having on her and others, and wanted to use the skills I had to take people’s minds off of things. We expected 20-30 people maximum to join the virtual tour and were very pleasantly surprised to see 200 and even 300 people!  

I love York and enjoy showing it off to people from everywhere around the world. Many are eager to come back and have used my tours to connect with it in a new way. I’m glad to see we’ve created a community of people online, who love York, its architecture, history and, of course, ghosts! Our last virtual tour has attracted 2,500 people missing York and eager to return.”  

The success of the virtual tours has created an interest in Dorian’s real – offline – tours, and in the time between August and November, he was able to hold a number of them in person, taking groups of up to 30 people on a spooky entertaining journey of the city. The tours were risk assessed and by introducing special measures to ensure public safety, have received a covid-safe certification.   

Visit York have worked with Dorian on multiple projects previously in his capacity of an actor – he was featured in the #OnlyInYork promotional video for the city in 2019 and has worked on a voice-over for a recent York: A Place to Fill Your Head with Inspiration video. In March 2020, Deathly’s Dark Tours have joined Visit York membership.  

Speaking about being a member of Visit York, Dorian adds:

“By joining Visit York you become a part of a community made out of local businesses and people in the city. Many of our tour visitors have also found out about us through the Visit York website and social media channels, which shows how great of a reach a DMO can offer.  

PJ Edgar, the Membership Executive, checks-in regularly and we’ve found it useful to hear about all the latest destination news and marketing opportunities from the Visit York team. The initiatives run by Visit York, like the latest #LoveYork Awards are a great way to gain exposure for our business, and I can’t wait to be a part of the official Visit York Tourism Awards when they are back.” 

Looking into the future, Dorian is looking forward to running more tours both virtually and in real life. Dorian Deathly is especially excited for the next Halloween season and being able to have more people join the tours and enjoying them in a more personal and interactive way with the covid restrictions being eased.  

The Dorian Deathly’s Dark Tours are also looking at ways to expand the business, working with friends and partners across the country and planning to offer more flexibility in the future.  

Find out more about the Dorian Deathly: Deathly’s Dark Tours here:  

Lear more about the Visit York membership and the benefits of becoming a member here:  

Case Study: Olivia Brabbs Photography

Olivia Brabbs Photography is a well-established local business, celebrating its 14th year of operation this year. Olivia, who is a second-generation photographer and who grew up in Yorkshire, first started the photography business to offer wedding photography services as well as commercial photography. In the last 5 years the main focus of the business has shifted to exclusively offer commercial photography and branding.  

Olivia’s core portfolio of clients is made up of hospitality, lifestyle, tourism and heritage businesses. This niche focus provides an opportunity to utilise a broad range of photography genres, which is one of Olivia’s strengths as a photographer. In her project for Bettys Café and Tearooms, Olivia has shot portraits, created still life shots, photographed food for commercial promotion and captured interiors beautifully for use online and in print.  

Since her university days, Olivia knew she wanted to work with people and her the love for creative work and photography has grown over the years and Olivia has created the Olivia Brabbs Photography to embark on this new and exciting journey. Olivia’s early pre-photography professional experience as an occupational therapist has fed into her approach and style of working with people today. 

Olivia says: “I’m renowned for my documentary style of working which creates images full of narrative. I also like to photograph people in a very natural and authentic way. I like to make people feel relaxed by building connections and working quietly and respectfully. When you capture the right moment – both the product and people shine.” 

2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for many businesses, with changes in rules and confusion around what could and couldn’t be considered ‘essential’. With the majority of Olivia’s clients having to temporarily close during lockdown, it has given her an opportunity to take a pause and have a fresh look at her business.  

Olivia’s business has not been eligible for any formal government support schemes, but was able to secure some support from the Micro Grant scheme from City of York Council during the initial lockdown period and more recently a Business Recovery Grant administered by Umi on behalf of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership with the help from Make It York’s Business Growth Manager, Louise Saw. The grant was used to support the business by purchasing necessary equipment to improve safety for on-locations shoots and equipment needed to effectively style and work from home. Olivia has worked on improving the company’s website and has also published a new Covid-19 policy on her website, to show how she can continue working safely, which contributed to clients picking up in December 2020.  

Many businesses Olivia works with have used the time during lockdowns to look closer at their online products, working on new launches and re-branding projects. With social media being very “content greedy” and professional image portfolios being the attention-grabbing point for brand, more businesses were looking at investing into working with Olivia. Her ability to offer a safe working environment, flexibility and expertise have helped secure more contracts and grow her business.  

Make It York began supporting Olivia’s business in March 2020, by helping Olivia to deal with the complicated situation around the pandemic and her challenges in securing any type of funding to help mitigate the impact. Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager at Make It York, has helped Olivia by looking at building the company’s brand and maintaining visibility even during the period of no active work.  

Olivia says: “It’s been such a positive experience working with Louise. She has provided much needed support during lockdown restrictions and has helped me shape and refocus my business with a view not just on survival but also longer-term growth. Louise has offered friendly support whilst also challenging me. In addition to our formal zoom sessions, she has kept me informed of opportunities and relevant business information. Due to her support, I have had an application approved for a business recovery grant which is going to be invaluable in helping me wether the impact of Covid restrictions on my business.” 

Looking to the future, Olivia is working to build her reputation on a national level and is particular passionate about been seen as a go-to photographer for Yorkshire brands. 

To find out more about Olivia Brabbs Photographycheck out their website:  

To learn more about the business support Make It York are offering and how our team can help your business, please visit or email 

Meet the Shambles Market Trader: Staves Art

Selling a unique range of hand drawn cityscape artworks, Staves Art was founded by artist Ben Staves in 2017. Ben designs unique maps of cities across the UK and beyond – including York, London, New York and Paris – portraying the famous streets and landmarks in an unusual 3D globe style.

Each design can take anywhere up to 100 hours to create – with Ben hand-drawing intricate, detailed maps of the city and its iconic buildings to give a totally unique take on the city skyline.

From originally pursuing a career in Architecture, Ben created the first of his iconic city globe designs whilst studying at Northumbria University back in 2012, and over the last nine years has gone on to develop this passion for art into a successful business. Pre-lockdown, Ben was trading on Shambles Market three days a week – with his father and uncle helping him run the business both on market stalls and online. Ben is now one of the artists whose work is on sale in the brand new Visit York e shop – which offers a carefully curated collection of some of the best locally created York gifts, crafts and merchandise. The shop features Ben’s hand-drawn ‘York Globe’ artwork – a unique and original take on a city map design with the print available to buy on high quality greetings cards and cushions.

During lockdown, Ben has been kept busy with new commissions and sales via his revamped website – – which offers a wide variety of different cityscape locations as well as popular sporting venues (and even fantasy worlds!)


Ben Staves explains, “I began creating the cityscape artwork when I was in University as part of my Architecture degree and since then I’ve been delighted to be able to develop this into a business. What began as a hobby, and something that I absolutely love doing, is now my full-time job and it’s been great to see how it’s grown over the years.

We started trading on Shambles Market towards the end of 2019 and found it a really wonderful way to promote our products and get out and meet people. The atmosphere on the market is fantastic and it’s a great community of traders on there – offering a mix of really cool products and street food and we love being part of it!

It’s also been great to be a part of the new Visit York e shop and have our York pieces on there for people who want to pick up something a little bit different as a souvenir or gift. The artwork has a huge amount of detail and lovers of York will be able to spot lots of their favourite sights and locations.

Whilst lockdown has been challenging, with us not being able to do the shows and stalls that we had planned, on the plus side it has given me time to work on creating new pieces and developing the online side of the business. Sales via our website have been doing really well and it’s been great to see people supporting small independent businesses when purchasing gifts online. We are really missing seeing our customers face to face and being out chatting to them out on the stall and can’t wait to be back when it’s safe to reopen again!”

Find out more at or and check out the Visit York e-shop for a selection of unique gifts, merchandise and clothing from a range of local suppliers and artists.

Case Study: Momentful

The York-based technology brand and Visit York member behind Momentful, are inviting businesses across the city to take part in a free three-month trial of their unique creative messaging app service – which aims to keep people emotionally connected even when they are physically distanced.  

The company behind Momentful was launched back in 2016 on York Science Park by Suzy Edward and John Osborne, who both have over thirty years’ experience in developing cutting edge mobile technologies. Seeing that there was a gap in the market, Momentful was developed to help bring people together through the power of expressing themselves with digital ‘Moments’.

With unique original artwork developed by artists and designers specifically with the aim to convey human emotions and tell stories, the Momentful team also have expert input from an in-house psychologist to ensure all the content on the app is designed with the intended emotion in mind.

Originally created for a consumer audience, earlier last year the brand created Momentful@Work – a service for businesses which aims to help keep remote teams more emotionally connected and engaged through the power of digital messaging. Teams can access a bespoke, branded version of the app which is topped up with free credits so that they can share ‘moments’ with their colleagues, managers and even personal friends and family. Offering a unique onboarding experience and bespoke content, the Momentful@Work service aims to help businesses looking to engage their workforce – allowing colleagues to send Moments to anyone, anywhere, regardless of whether they have the app installed.

Steve Coomber, Director of Partnerships at Momentful said, “With the impact of the pandemic and the various national lockdowns meaning colleagues, families and friends aren’t able to get together in the same way as before, the way we communicate digitally has become ever more important. Our app gives people the opportunity to reach out in a special, meaningful way and bridge any physical distance through the sharing of our unique ‘Moments’.

For so many businesses, finding ways to keep their teams motivated and engaged – particularly when people are working remotely – is a real challenge, and Momentful@Work has been a great way to help keep colleagues connected and potentially spark conversations about mental wellbeing in a way that feels very easy and genuine.

Our free three-month trial offers businesses a chance to try out the functionality of the app and see what impact it can have on their staff wellbeing and motivation – it also provides us with a really useful way of getting some live insight and feedback, so that we can continue to improve and develop our service.”

Momentful joined Visit York membership last year and have already been working with the team on partnership activity in the Visitor Information Centre. Steve continues, “We would love other Visit York members to take us up on this offer for a trial of Momentful@Work, as it’s a great way to engage with staff, no matter the size of your business. As a Visit York member we’ve found that being part of such a business community in the city with shared interests, challenges and goals is a real benefit to us, and we’re keen to continue to develop those relationships with other local businesses this year.”

To find out more about Momentful@Work visit and email to register your interest for a free trial.

Case Study: LEaF Translations

LEaF Translations is a York-based translation company set up in 2017 by Lucy Pembayun to provide high-quality translations that perfectly match the client’s tone of voice. After working as a freelance translator for a number of large translation agencies, Lucy launched LEaF to move the focus away from an emphasis on speed and swift turnarounds in favour of high-quality translations. The company specialises in translations for the tourism sector, marketing translations, certified translations, website translations, as well as multilingual keyword research for international SEO.

Originally set up as a German to English translation company, LEaF Translations added more languages in 2020, including French, Spanish and Japanese. A team of around ten highly experienced, qualified native-speaker freelance translators offer their services through LEaF, with a particular focus on quality of work. All translations are also proofread by a second language expert as standard.

LEaF Style Guide – a quick-reference guide to English grammar that is available as a free download

LEaF Translations joined Visit York at the beginning of 2020 to offer their services to tourism and hospitality businesses in the city. While lots of these businesses have high-quality English marketing materials, many do not have foreign-language versions of their websites. This means that they will not be appearing in search results in countries such as Germany and Spain. LEaF saw an opportunity to help these tourism and hospitality businesses attract more international guests and visitors by improving their visibility in online searches abroad. Unfortunately, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on international travel has meant that these businesses are not currently prioritising investment in marketing to overseas audiences and this area of the business has had to be put on hold as a result.

Instead, Lucy decided to use 2020 to focus on training and to develop her professional skills – she became a qualified member of the Institute of Translation & Interpreting, allowing her to translate legal documents like marriage certificates and documents for visa applications, which adds a new service to the business. For the majority of the year, Lucy concentrated on growing the company and project-managing the new team of freelance translators. The freelancers who work with LEaF are chosen based on recommendations by their fellow professionals, and this helps to ensure that quality continues to be the number one priority. Lucy has also begun working with digital marketing agencies to offer multilingual keyword research and SEO translations for international SEO (search engine optimisation).

One of LEaF Translations’ main aims is to have a positive impact on both their customers and on the planet. Part of the company’s earnings are donated to Ecologi each month, helping plant more trees in the UK and abroad, and contributing to environmental solutions to help fight against climate change in the time of a global climate emergency. Lucy is no stranger to ethical business, having previously managed a fair-trade company together with her husband selling ethically sourced handicrafts from Indonesia. This desire to show that business can be a force for good is now being applied to LEaF Translations: one of LEaF’s key priorities is climate awareness and they strive to encourage more companies to adopt ethical business practices.

Make It York has been supporting LEaF Translations since early 2020, after Lucy first connected with Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager from Make It York, via LinkedIn. Louise has helped Lucy raise awareness of her business and introduced her to valuable contacts that can help Lucy’s company grow.

“Louise has been brilliant”, says Lucy. “We have regular progress calls to see where the business is at and Louise always offers support and valuable advice on funding, skills training sessions and introduces me to potential clients or people in the sector. Through Louise I was able to get to know Grace Redhead from the Student Internship Bureau at the University of York who looks after the University’s Internship Programme. As a result, I am currently in the process of interviewing students for an internship at LEaF.”

Lucy adds: “The Connect over Coffee networking group, also run by Louise Saw from Make It York, is my favourite virtual networking event. It has a really nice atmosphere and features informative talks from the region’s diverse businesses. I have found it really helpful in terms of meeting new people and building business connections. I would definitely recommend it to other local business owners looking to expand their network and chat with like-minded people.”

Looking to the future, Lucy is focused on growing LEaF Translations – first, by continuing to work with digital marketing agencies in the Yorkshire region and beyond to provide international keyword research services and then, when international travel picks up, by helping York’s tourism and hospitality businesses attract more overseas customers through high-quality website translations. The recently awarded Business Resilience Grant will certainly help with this. As Lucy explains: “This money gives us a fantastic opportunity to increase the visibility of the LEaF website and to help us to continue on our path towards sustainable growth. A big thank you to Louise Saw from Make it York for telling us about the grant and helping us with the application process.”

When Lucy launched LEaF Translations back in 2017, her main aims were to create a translation company that puts the focus back on quality, to prove that business can be ethical and to help support younger generations by providing work experience and jobs within the translation industry. Working with the University of York’s Internship Programme, LEaF Translations is now taking this first step to support the next generation, while the company’s commitment to carbon-positive business practices is also showing that business and sustainability can go hand in hand.

To find out more about LEaF Translations, check out their website:

To learn more about the business support Make It York are offering and how our team can help your business, please visit or email

Meet the Shambles Market Trader: Black Yak

Black Yak, a unique Fair Trade importer, wholesaler and manufacturer, will this year celebrate twenty-five years of being in business, and of trading on Shambles Market. With a loyal customer base from all over the world, Black Yak sells a range of sustainable clothing and crafts that are handmade in Nepal.

Offering everything from woolly hats, jumpers and gloves through to beautiful summer clothing – the brand has most recently had fantastic national media coverage with a piece in The Independent, following a viral meme being shared online of Bernie Sanders wearing wool mittens at the inauguration of Joe Biden.

During lockdown, Black Yak continues to operate as an online business – shipping their high-quality clothing in a range of sizes and designs to customers across the world. Visit to browse Black Yak’s selection of hand-made clothing, crafts and accessories and to find out more about how their goods are ethically produced.

Recognised by BAFTS, (The British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers) as a Fair Trade importer and seller, an ethos of fairness and equality is at the heart of the Black Yak business – alongside a commitment to providing long-lasting high-quality products to their customers.

Rupert Harrison of Black Yak explains: “The ethos behind the business is to only buy fairly and ethically produced goods from our workers in Nepal – with a focus on ensuring that they earn an honest wage and are looked after all year round. This is hugely important, especially now during the pandemic when we are doing everything we can to ensure that the workers in our supply chain continue to be taken care of.

“Whilst Covid-19 has had a big impact on our business and we were sad not to have been able to see customers face to face on the Shambles Market and at York’s St. Nicholas Christmas Fair, it’s been positive to see that our website remains popular. Coverage like the recent piece in The Independent all helps and we’ve seen a great increase in traffic to our site and sales of the mittens featured.

“Over the last twenty-five years we’ve seen real changes in Shambles Market and it has been great to see how it has grown in recent years as a major tourist attraction in its own right. The quality and diversity of the traders on the market is fantastic, and I really enjoy being part of that and meeting such a diverse range of people on a daily basis.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart to our customers who continue to support Black Yak and in turn help the artisan workers in Nepal who make our products. Buying from us really does help to make a difference, and we look forward to be able to see customers in person again when it’s safe to do so!”

Find out more about Black Yak here:

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