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Hyperlocal wins six-figure grant to pay editor and train 80 community reporters

john baronA hyperlocal news title has won a six-figure grant which will enable it to pay its editor, produce more print editions and train 80 volunteer reporters.

The West Leeds Dispatch has revealed the £112,000 award from the National Lottery’s Community Fund, which will pay for its operations for the next three years.

The cash will be used to fund a part-time editor and a part-time business development manager to help the Dispatch become “financially sustainable”.

It will also fund the training of up to 80 new volunteers community reporters and pay for some print editions of the title to be produced.

Editor John Baron, pictured, said: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way.

“Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to train more community reporters, to add to the 40 or so we have already trained.

“The funding is a real game-changer for us. Not only will we have more community reporters on the ground, it is a massive boost in our quest to become a sustainable community news organisation, run by West Leeds people for West Leeds people.”

The Dispatch is run by the community-led social enterprise West Leeds Community Media, which is overseen by a board of volunteers.

Chair Anne Akers said: “Over six years the West Leeds Dispatch has gone from strength to strength, in fact we reached the point where as volunteers, we couldn’t cope with the demand, that’s why we put in our bid to the Lottery.

“We wanted to pay our editor, because he puts in so much time, pay for someone to help us generate business and make us self-financing, and invest in community development by training more community journalists.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us, but we have a great group of community reporters which we can build on to help us develop the online and print versions of the West Leeds Dispatch.”