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Tag a tile

Swarthmore Education Centre provides outstanding adult education and is housed in a red brick Georgian terrace, overlooking a pleasant square in central Leeds.

Locality members Swarthmore Education Centre
Image by Betty Longbottom via Creative Commons

But Swarthmore’s elegant Grade II listed buildings were facing a major problem – a severely leaking roof. Water was getting in, causing damage and disrupting lessons.

Swarthmore Education Centre needed to raise a massive £360,000 to fix the roofs of their campus buildings and almost all that money had to be found through fundraising.

Swarthmore’s team knew that they had to use every trick in the book to try and raise the money. Part of this huge fundraising effort was a clever idea called ‘tag a tile’.

Launch of tag a tile campaign at Swarthmore Education Centre
Launch of the tag a tile campaign

Tag a tile invited people to make a donation and in return they got to write a message on the back of a roof tile. The tiles and the messages then became part of the college, held safe and sound in perpetuity on the roof.

Director Maggi Butterworth said: “Our finance manager’s mum came up with the idea – she’d sponsored a brick in the cathedral in memory of her husband, and said we should do something similar. Our team discussed it and decided on the tag a tile idea.”

The tag a tile campaign raised around £3000, with 150 tiles tagged. It also got the campaign publicity, with players from the Leeds Rhinos rugby team and Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn coming to sign a slate.

Tag a tile Leeds Rhinos players
Leeds Rhinos players with their tiles

Maggi said: “Lots of people wrote personal messages for their family, or to friends or family members who’d died. When people go up there in 100 years, those messages will still be there.”

“When we took the old tiles off, we found that some of the builders had signed their names on them.”

Swarthmore’s roof is now mended, and also has 99 new solar panels, which will one day provide enough energy to power most of the centre.

Swarthmore Education Centre tag a tile
A tile in memory of Gus Cooper