West Leeds Community Media hosts its first AGM

13 September 2018

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How to make the West Leeds Dispatch more sustainable, the spectre of fake news and our achievements over the past year were all high on the agenda at West Leeds Community Media‘s (WLCM) first AGM, writes John Baron.

WLCM is the social enterprise that runs the West Leeds Dispatch and is made up entirely of volunteers who either live or work in the West Leeds area. The Dispatch is edited voluntarily and has a number of community contributors.

The AGM, held at New Wortley Community Centre, heard that although we had less than £100 in the bank forthcoming initiatives to raise money included:

  • A sponsors’ scheme for small businesses and community groups
  • A pound-a-week individual supporters’ scheme for readers
  • A self-service advertising platform where companies can place their own adverts.

We’re also in the process of putting together funding bids to run community reporter training courses.

There is a pressing need to cover costs of our web hosting, running an e-mail newsletter, membership of independent press regulator Impress and attending summer galas, among other things. It’s our ultimate aim to be able to pay people for their work and became a sustainable social enterprise.

In the long term, there’s also a will to put together a printed edition of the Dispatch.

Westie West Leeds Dispatch mascot

In a little over three years the Dispatch has had more than 2.6 million page impressions from over half a million unique visitors. The meeting heard that over the summer we had 19 different voluntary contributors and featured about 50 different community groups and organisations.

Rebecca Whittington stood down as chair due to work commitments, and Kerry Murphy took over the position. Rebecca is staying on as a board member. We also welcomed Iola Shaw as a new committee member.

We were lucky to have community activist Adele Rae speak at the AGM about her community work in Burley and the Kirkstall Valley Development Trust, which is hoping to create a community hub and heritage centre at Abbey Mills and a national centre for demonstrating solutions to climate breakdown and living in zero carbon cities at St Ann’s Mills.

It’s also working towards setting up a community farm in the Kirkstall Valley.

Our normal board meeting after the AGM saw a discussion about fake news, recent controversial articles about the cycle superhighway and a licensing application at Kirkstall Abbey, and ethical decision-making.

The evening finished with pizza, fizz and cake!

Our thanks go to New Wortley Community Centre for having us (and giving us such a warm welcome) and Adele Rae for coming along to speak to eloquently. As editor, I’d like to thank everyone on the board – current and past – for all their hard work since our formation last June.

Our board consists of John Baron, Emma Bearman, Jill Buckley, Liz Conner, Jim Corah, Diane Law, Kerry Murphy, Iola Shaw and Rebecca Whittington. Previous board members include Fran Barker, Cat Chrimes and Debby Dean.

If you have and ideas on how The Dispatch can improve, develop and evolve (or, even better, if you can help) drop us a line at news@westleedsdispatch.com. We’d love to hear from you.


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