Why change is in the air for West Leeds Dispatch


There’s a change in the air for the West Leeds Dispatch – for the better, writes Rebecca Whittington.

On Monday the Dispatch, which was founded almost two years ago, took its first steps towards becoming a social enterprise company.

A board was formed under the name ‘West Leeds Community Media’ to manage and develop the Dispatch and to identify the aims and ambitions of the company.

John Baron journalist leeds
John Baron

Editor John Baron said:

West Leeds Dispatch has been running for around 20 months now and the time is right to take it to the next level. By having a strong board of local residents with diverse skills we’re hoping to build capacity to make the Dispatch more sustainable and put it on a stronger footing, all of which is good news for readers. The Dispatch will be all the stronger in the long run.

“Becoming a social enterprise doesn’t change us one bit, we’re here to give local residents a voice and we welcome contributions from anyone and everyone on anything connected with life in West Leeds.

“We’ll be announcing our next community news café very soon and we hope you can join us there for a chat and a cuppa to tell us your stories and get involved.”

Our board

Joining John on the board are chairperson Fran Barker, a former newspaper advertising manager who lives in Rodley and who leads the Bramley War Memorial project. Fran is well-known in West Leeds for her work with the Poppy Appeal.

The role of secretary has been taken by Jill Buckley, a Horsforth resident who is secretary of Kirkstall Harriers and who volunteers with several projects in the West Leeds area.

Cat Chrimes, of Armley, has been made treasurer. Cat was heavily involved with the community takeover of Bramley Baths and is treasurer on the board of the Friends of Armley Park.

Also on the board are:

Bianca Vartic, a community development worker who is passionate about raising the voice and aspirations of the BME community in West Leeds;

Debby Dean from Bramley, a regular contributor to the Dispatch who works at Bramley Lawn in a community development capacity;

Armley’s Emma Bearman, who co-founded the Dispatch and who is involved in numerous community projects and social enterprises in the patch;

and Rebecca Whittington, a Bramley resident and former head of news at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post, now working in the Journalism Department at Leeds Trinity University.

The board will meet in the coming month to identify the aims of the enterprise and start working on a company constitution.

We’d also like to thank Fran Graham for her kind hospitality at Bramley Lawn on Monday.


The formation of the board comes hot on the heels of the Dispatch becoming a member of the government-backed press regular Impress and being awarded a trusted journalism mark:

Get involved!

To express an interest in getting involved in our development and direction please – or to contribute stories – email news@westleedsdispatch.com.






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