Create, Connect and Sustain: what we’ve found

We are very excited to share our final report with you. It was submitted to AHRC and is “draft” before it’s approved, but we wanted to publish it all the same. We’ve condensed many hours of interviews, workshops, research and discussion into just 15 pages. You can download the report here.

In short, we found that the organisations we researched in depth (Antiform/Remade in Leeds and Makerhood) are having a substantial impact on the people who engage with their activities, with participants responding to the values of localism, community building, sustainability and creativity that the organisations promote. These organisations’ activities are important in building and maintaining connectedness in local communities. We also found that there was a multitude of diverse making enterprises in the UK and beyond working hard to create a difference in their communities.

Bringing together some of them through the Create Connect Sustain workshops proved a very valuable part of the project. Workshop participants reflected on their work, shared learning and talked about the impact they are having. You can find case studies on this website, an overview of these organisations in our report. We are grateful to the following organisations for taking part: Assemble & Join (London / UK-wide), Building Bloqs (Edmonton, North London), Daniel Charny (Kennington, London), Emilie Taylor (Sheffield), Fairly Square (Central London), Keep & Share (Hereford/Leeds), Leeds Bread Co-op (Leeds), Rekindle (Christchurch and Auckland, New Zealand), Remade in Edinburgh, Riversmeet (Cumbria),  South London Makerspace, The Drawing Shed (East London), The Remakery (South London), and The Working Wool studio (Bristol).

Below is a film from our final workshop looking at the impact of local making and remaking enterprises.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the research. We hope the findings will be useful to makers, researchers and policy makers alike. The project is now finished, but you can keep in touch with us and other people interested in local making issues by joining our Facebook Group.


Making an Impact Workshop 12 June 2014

Join us for a day of exploration, making and learning focused on the key question: How can we measure our impact?


What is this about?

There is a boom in the independent, local, handmade and DIY economies in the UK. Many initiatives and social businesses are responding to concerns about the environmental and social implications of mainstream consumerism by focusing on sustainability, community and creativity in trade. The Create Connect Sustain project has been researching such initiatives to discover how they create change in their communities.

This event brings together makers, entrepreneurs, project organisers and researchers to hear about our findings, share expertise and explore the impact of local making initiatives.

Why attend?

If you or your organisation has a clear interest in sustainability, community, creativity and trade, this event is for you:

  • Learn how other initiatives and projects measure their impact
  • Design new approaches that will help you demonstrate the impact of your work to your users, partners, funders and policy makers
  • Meet many other likeminded people working on making/remaking projects
  • Contribute to the wider thinking about the field and its impact on our communities and economies

The event is free, lunch is provided and there is a budget for travel from outside of London.

What will happen on the day?

We are gathering at the award-winning Building Bloqs makerspace in London

10.30 – Arrival, registration, tea and coffee.

11.00 – Welcome: Why is impact important? With Prof. Andy Dearden, Sheffield Hallam University.

11.15 – Hear from makers: talks from four making projects on how they are changing the world!

12.15 – Assessing our impact: Q & A with Makerhood & Antiform on how they are assessing & monitoring their impact.

13.00 – Lunch

14.00 – Hands-on Making and Reflecting together: What difference do we make? All invited to participate.

15.30 – So what does all this mean? Reflecting on impact. In conversation with Daniel Charny of Fixperts, Amy Twigger Holroyd of Keep & Share, Ann Light and others.

16.30 – Wrap up, wine and music!

The wonderful Marmaduke Dando – musician, thinker and maker – will play us a beautiful live set.


We look forward to seeing you there.

If you’d like to keep in touch you’re welcome to join our Facebook group.

The event is free, though places are limited. We have some funding to support travel costs for participants. If you need support, please email us at

Workshop 6th March 2014

On 6th March 2014 we will be holding a workshop in Sheffield.

We are looking for projects or organisations who use creativity, making or re-making to engage people in sustainable consumption and production, and who are interested in connecting people to communities and the planet. If this describes you or your project, and you would like to meet other similar organisations from around the UK, then we would like to invite you to take part in our research to meet other organisations, share learning, and contribute to evidence that supports this work.

The Create Connect Sustain project is a collaborative research project with two social enterprises and two universities working together. Our research questions are:

  • How are community based making and re-making enterprises stimulating change in consumption and production practices?
  • How can encounters with these practices contribute to people’s connectedness to communities and the planet?

Our research team includes Antiform/Remade in Leeds, Makerhood in Brixton, C3RI at Sheffield Hallam University, and Northumbria University.

Having spent a few months doing research within the partner organisations we would like to open the project up to participants from other organisations that share similar aims and ambitions. One of the main motivations for doing this research was to explore how we could evidence the ways in which Antiform/Remade in Leeds and Makerhood were achieving their goals of engaging people in sustainable consumption and production. We have done some of this research already and have more to do, and at this point would like to share what we have find out with our peers to get feedback on what we have found out, to help decide what else we need to do, and how we can turn that into outputs that are useful for the whole community of creative organisations working towards sustainable communities.

We know that as someone who runs this kind of project you are likely to be really busy and your time is precious, but from experience we have found that people who come and join our research projects and workshops have benefitted from taking time to reflect on their own work, to learn about other projects and people facing similar challenges, meet people with a genuine professional interest in this area of work, and to contribute to research outputs that can help to support funding applications, to evidence the benefits of your work and to influence policy. We hope that you are able to participate in some way, and please do talk to us about how much time you have available and how you can get the most out of working with us.

If this does sound like a project that you would be interested in then there are several ways that you can get involved – take part in our research workshops, co-produce a case study for the research, join our Facebook group to connect to other organisations, and read (and use) our research reports.

Our first workshop is on Thursday 6th March 2014, in Sheffield (travel expenses will be paid), from 11am to 5pm. We are looking for around 10 people from creative and sustainable projects to give us feedback on what we have done and to help us plan the next stage of our work. This is important to us because we want to make sure that our research produces something that is useful to the community that we are all part of.  If you would like to attend please contact:


Create Connect Sustain is a research project that is co-designed and co-delivered by a team of academics and social entrepreneurs. It is running from February 2013 to June 2014 and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council ‘Connected Communities’ grant scheme.

The theme of the research is engaging people in sustainability through making and trade. More detail about the project and the team of collaborators can be found on the About page.

The project is in two phases, Phase One is the co-design phase where the team are working together to identify research questions and a strategy for researching them, and Phase Two is the co-delivery of that research project. There will be various opportunities to join workshops and take part in the project.

For more information please contact Katie Jane Hill at