What a year it’s been for Brightbox! We thought we'd take a moment to reflect back on the past year and put together a round up of our biggest hits!


Makerlab Partnerships

Our collaboration with DMC02 to help run the Makerlab began in March. Throughout this year we have helped numerous SME’s and micro businesses with their growth and development with the equipment in the Makerlab.

The Makerlab is a dedicated facility for creating, making, testing and prototyping new products and ideas. It includes laser cutters, 3d printers, power tools, and garment printers.

The Digital Innovation for Growth Programme is available to businesses across the Sheffield City Region who are looking to make the most of digital technology to grow, improve products, maximise efficiency and adopt new ways of working.

Patrick Murphy, a British artist, designer, and curator has used his time in the Maker Lab to discover how technology can assist in his work.  He has developed several new techniques and designs using the Maker Lab.  He has used the Laser Cutter to prototype his designs, producing them at a reduced scale and with inexpensive materials has enabled him to refine his designs before going into production on a larger scale or increased production.

The Digital Innovation for Growth Programme offers 12 hours of fully funded access to our prototyping and testing facilities in the MakerLab with the Brightbox team, and the opportunity to work with Sheffield Hallam University’s academic experts. Contact us to find out more.

Healthy Holidays

During the summer we ran summer camps in collaboration with Barnsley Council’s Healthy Holidays Scheme.

They ran for 3 days and were all about sustainable futures; either the Future of Food or the Future of Fashion. The children could either make their own clothing or design the future of food sustainably. Some key takeaways that they learnt was using a sewing machine, learning about cospaces and farming, and the impact of fast fashion

As part of the scheme each young person was provided with a nutritious meal, and all took part in 60 minutes of exercise per day.

New Team Members

At the end of 2022 the Brightbox Team reached 10!

This year we welcomed a Digital Marketing Apprentice, a Lead Community Makerspace Coordinator, a Marketing Manager, and two Makerlab technicians.

Community Renewal Fund (CRF)

The UK Community Renewal Fund is a UK Government programme for that aimed to support people and communities most in need across the UK. It invests in skills, community and place, local business, and supporting people into employment. As part of this fund Brightbox led community consultations, ran a maker in residence programme, and held several workshops.

Community Consultations: Partnering with Barnsley Council and Barnsley Libraries, we set out to explore the relationship between libraries and makerspaces, with a view to developing community-embedded makerspaces. Our primary goal was to understand what communities want and need from spaces. We discovered that people want libraries to become multiuse spaces filled with activities, different community groups and offer the opportunity to put ownership of activities in the community.

Workshops: Over the course of 6 months, the library staff and young people on our employability programme, devised a plan for makerspace delivery. These Workshops were held in Dodworth and Worsbrough libraries, and included learning about terrariums, stained glass, how to upcycle clothing, getting started with Linkedin, digital storytelling, and many others.

Workshops focussed on tech skills, problem solving, and creativity - supporting the community to learn new skills in a fun and relaxed environment. The workshops were a huge success, with people travelling from neighbouring towns just to attend them!

Makers in Residence

In addition to the community consultations and workshops, and to support the Good Growth Pilot's aims of employability, community, and skill building, Brightbox designed and delivered a youth employability programme. The Makers-in-Residence is a program for young people to get them into employability, gain new lifetime skills and to develop on the ones they already have.

In March 2022, 6 young people joined the Makers in Residence program and delivered their first workshop. As part of their work placement, they have delivered over 100 hours of events in the space of 7 months, taught more than 150 members of public and received 150 hours of training. They also learnt all about what funding is and how marketing can help a business. From the Makers in Residence programme, we were able to hire three members of staff, Eva, and Adrianna!

Read more about the Makers in more detail here.

Making at Home Kits supported by RS Grassroots

At the end of summer, we put together and sent out 1000 Making at home Kits to libraries for them to distribute. The kits included loads of goodies, from playdough, pipe cleaners, glue, sticks, colouring pencils, and more, for young people to get creative and make something,

One kid said "what an awesome bag of things...it even has blue playdough, my favourite!" which makes us very happy that the kids are enjoying their bag of fun.

Rotherham WOWfest supported by RS Grassroots and Flux

Girls with Drills went to WOWfest in July, and held a drill art pop up!

WOW Festival, held for the first time in Rotherham this year, is a worldwide initiative that started at London’s Southbank Centre in 2010, focusing on pressing issues that impact women and non-binary people such as working rights, access to healthcare, gender equality and female entrepreneurs. There have been over 100 festivals and events spanning six continents, but this is the first time a WOW Festival has been hosted in South Yorkshire.

Makerspace Visits

Also though the CRF mentioned earlier we brought together more than 10 library staff in Barnsley to learn about the possibilities of makerspaces.

The teams were encouraged to explore all the machinery at Hull Makerspace, to see the possibilities within Barnsley Lightbox and to uncover the prospects of production studios at Leeds Studio 12.

Our aim was to facilitate knowledge exchange between different libraries and makerspaces, to share their learning and best practice. We wanted librarians to see what might be possible within their spaces.

Tap Student Placement

The TAP programme is run in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, this is our second year of partnering with the university for a TAP placement. The placement includes a knowledge exchange project between us and the university student. This involved a university student joining us towards the end of our Makers in Residence Programme.

We wanted the student to have first-hand experience of the type of library makerspace provision our Maker-in-Residences were delivering. They then could take an active role in researching the impact this had for the young people and the local communities to the library. On top of this the student delivered our Drill Art workshop at WOW festival with other members of our team.


On 10th December we celebrated our 5th birthday with a MakerFest. We had makers, artists, and traders from Barnsley and South Yorkshire come to the DMC for the day to showcase their products and their skills.

Our makers included Zoe Genders, Unwearable Jewellery, The Apothecary Barn, Doodle Club, Liah Edwardes, and Pies with a Twist. Our workshops included a Build Your Own Terrarium, and a DIY Birdbox, Drill Art, as well The Future of Barnsley with Design Museum x Studio Polpo. And we had live music from The York Waits, and Ben.

Eva, our Lead Community Makerspace Coordinator, was also presented with the Josh Award
The Josh Award is a national prize for early- career science communicators. If you would like to read more about the award and what Eva did click here.

An incredible finish to an amazing year for Brightbox, watch this space for our next one in 2023!

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