Editor’s letter: There’s more to Armley than doom and gloom

Armley: Boys Brigade members at work. Photo: Lou Cunningham

By John Baron, Editor

I was reading an article the other day with the headline “I stay up at night worrying… you don’t know what’s going to happen: Life in scary Leeds suburb.

Armley, I read, was ‘under siege’ from ‘drug wars’. The article included a vivid description of a brutal stabbing.

It made for grim and over-the-top reading and was hardly a balanced and constructive narrative on the inner city community. It led to pushback against the coverage from Armley activists in the same publication a week later.

There’s no denying Armley’s got its problems with street drinking, crime, anti-social behaviour and drugs. Here at WLD we’ve covered all of this, mainly through concerns raised by local residents at the bi-monthly Armley Forum meetings, which we always try to attend in person and report upon.

Fun and games at last year’s Armley Festival. Photo: Mat Dale

Since the awful stabbings earlier this year we’ve made a conscious decision to highlight some of the community initiatives working to make Armley a better place. Many of the articles were written by our own community reporters, unprompted, who were keen to show Armley’s ‘other’ more positive side which doesn’t normally get the headlines but which happens on a day-to-day basis.

Armley Common Right Trust hanging basket event 2016

This includes:

Boxer Josh Wisher is rapidly becoming a champion of young people at his Armley gym. We featured his positive work to steer young people away from knife crime and his ‘lives not lives’ message.

Boxer Josh Wisher at the Knife Angel in Bradford.

Young people often get a bad press or a slating on social media. We’ve featured on the Boys’ Brigade litter pick where young boys are taking a pride in their community, and also their celebratory awards evening. As editor I’ve been working with Whingate Primary pupils on their project to engage with local issues and to critically evaluate the media, including what they see on social media.

We’re already looking forward to this year’s ‘daft and delightful’ Armley Festival, which brings hundreds of people together each year for fun on the Moor.

Our coverage includes the positive work of the fabulous Assembly House in Armley, which is a great resource which often flies underneath the radar. We featured a recent exhibition here.

The community came together at Christ Church to celebrate Meeting Point’s 20th anniversary.

Meeting Point, at Christ Church, does a fantastic job supporting asylum seekers – we went along to the celebrations surrounding the 20th anniversary of its women’s group and you can read all about this ‘oasis’ here. We’ve also shone a light on an Armley shop’s generosity towards a children’s cancer charity, and Armley’s favourite son Alan Bennett at the Playhouse.

Today we’ve highlighted the work of Armley Common Right Trust volunteers to provide 250 free hanging baskets to make Armley a brighter place next weekend.

And all these articles are on our website (and our latest print edition, out this week) in May alone. There are plenty more examples as you explore our archives.

We’re not here to provide PR to Armley or for us to lead you into believing Armley is some kind of utopia. It clearly isn’t. But we try to accurately reflect what’s going on in a balanced way. Read all our Armley coverage here and, dear reader, make your own mind up about what’s happening in Armley.

It’s interesting to note Harehills was last year receiving a slew of negative headlines which locals felt were unrepresentative of where they live. This led earlier this year to residents coming together to set up their own independent news site, East Side Story. Media obviously needs to tell things how they are, but it also needs to show some balance and connection with the communities it serves.

If you’re interested in getting more involved with local groups and organisations, check out these organisations: Armley Action Team, Armley Helping Hands, Armley Common Right Trust, Interplay Theatre, Keep Armley Tidy, Armley In Bloom, Meeting Point, Armley Festival, Friends of Armley and Gotts Park and New Wortley Community Centre.

If you have a story you think we should be covering, drop me a line on news@westleedsdispatch.com.

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  1. Well done West Leeds Dispatch for reminding us about the good side of ordinary folk! Much needed in what could be seen as troubled times, to remind ourselves that anything can be overcome with joint effort , united we have always stood!

  2. It was great to see the Leeds Live article in response to their original one. I love seeing all the good things happening in my neighbourhood.

  3. This is why I love reading WLD every day. It shines a light on community issues but in a fair and balanced way and it’s written by people who care about their communities and who know what’s going on. I read both Leeds Live stories about Armley and found them the usual clickbait, with an unfortunate choice of language and tone. I suppose they got their page impressions, so they’ll be happy.


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