Trufflehog is a social enterprise set up in 2009 by Marc Lintern of Plymouth University, working with Helen Greathead, a children’s author. Between 2009 and 2012 we published four books, the aim of which was to provide real world experiential learning for university students in the competitive world of publishing. This is achieved by generating sponsorship to commission children’s books which are then written, illustrated, designed and published by our students.
To achieve a commercially viable book the students are mentored by Helen Greathead, with the students responsible for the books from start to finish. From 2009 to 2012 we published four books, ‘We Love Looe’, ‘Time Travelling Train on the Tamar Valley Line’, ‘Well over 150 things you need to know about Plymouth University’ and ‘All about Plymouth’s Past(ies)’. The books are sold in shops and online the income from this also contributes to the funding of future books.
In addition to the learning experience for university students, the books are used as a way of working with school pupils in both primary and secondary schools, as an educational and aspiration-raising experience. Working with university students, the pupils are involved in researching the stories, through which they also learn about their local heritage – and higher education. This work contributes to the teaching curriculum and there is a great sense of achievement for the children in being involved in a book of this quality. It is a perfect vehicle for delivering widening participation activities with the children producing their own artwork and stories, visiting the university and being involved in the book launches, at which they also receive certificates.
This project has encouraged collaboration within and outside of the university, including with schools, business sponsors and academics from a range of creative disciplines. For our first two books, We Love Looe and All aboard the Tamar Valley Railway, we worked with an experienced project manager from Groundwork South West, Anne Tillett.
In 2013 Marc moved to the North East and Helen has since worked on two more book projects.