I started the Together in Batley newspaper with a group of friends because I’d become disappointed about how Batley is reported on locally and nationally, because bad news drags people down. I wanted to get some good news out and to inform and represent those of us who feel isolated and feel that we have no voice. I thought a newspaper distributed to community centres and the food banks would catch the people who were not online, who felt disconnected. I wanted to help to create something that was about good news, to replace the bad press about the area.
Being part of several groups in Batley you meet lovely people. It seemed there are a lot of things happening in Batley that we don’t know about. Whole groups of people like me who feel disconnected because they are not active online. Together in Batley needs to be a way to share this information – to connect us.
We tell good news stories celebrating what has happened to help to change the dialogue. We publish details of the groups that people can get involved with, join in with: for pleasure, to help people or to be part of a group with shared interests.
There’s a group of us involved in pulling it all together, with a lot of support from the Friends of Batley Library, and the library manager and staff. I was concerned it was a newspaper for old people. But young people love it. Two young people have said to me personally how valuable it is. One told me “It made me realise I’d come to live in the right place”. Another, who works for the council, said “It really made me positive about my choice of job, in coming to work here.” People ask when the next issue is due.
When I left work I was living in Batley, but all my friends were in Leeds. There were concerns about the future of the library so I joined The Friends of Batley Library.
It was a selfish motivation because I didn’t want to be isolated and the people helping the library had the same interest as me. It’s the daring to go to a group where you don’t know the people. Batley is full of lovely people.
When it came to the newspaper, I thought “have I got time to do this?”, “Is there anyone who would like to help?”
I had amazing support from Kirklees staff. Cllr Gwen Lowe has been a tremendous help. She thought I was too busy, but after we had a chat she was so supportive. The councillors financed the first six issues out of their ward budget funding.
It’s only a start. It can be so much better. We can make it more representative of the whole community. We are working hard to create a paper for the community by the community.
It’s a journey that I hope other people will come and contribute to. Letting people know what’s going on in their area, that there is lots to do, and that there are so many good news stories and activities we can see and contribute to together.
Find out more
Thank you to Celia for sharing her story with us in a conversation at Batley Library. Find out how you can Share your story about getting involved in your local place – in a conversation, or online.
Add a comment