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Former car mechanic praises Facebook scheme after joining weekly

George HarmanA former car mechanic who has switched careers to become a journalist has hailed the importance of the regional press.

George Harman has shared his gratitude after entering the industry with Somerset weekly the Wellington Weekly News.

George, pictured, has joined the Tindle Newspapers title under the Community News Project, which is funded by Facebook owner Meta and administered by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

The scheme was set up in 2018 to help regional newsrooms cover underserved communities across the country.

George, 26, said: “After leaving school I did not know what I wanted to do, even though I had been good at writing.

“I got into cars and worked as a mechanic, which – even though I was in a great place with lovely people – was not for me.

“I have lived in Wellington for many years so when I saw the chance to become a CNP reporter come up, I made sure to apply.”

George will study for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism while serving his apprenticeship, which began in June.

He added: “Although I had got no experience in journalism I had always been interested in current affairs locally.

“I was interested in community-based social media which was important given the strong link with Meta. I also strongly believe in the importance of a local news source in the community like the Wellington Weekly News. Trusted local news is more important than ever.

“I bring my real world experience from my previous role and feel that having been a mechanic I can interact with a mix of people.

“Becoming a CNP reporter with Tindle has made me realise I should have done this years ago. If anyone is considering going for one of these roles they should go for it.”

Elsewhere, another journalist taken on under the scheme has been recognised for his work.

Ayokunle Oluwalana, who works for MyLondon under the scheme, was honoured with an editorial award by its publisher Reach plc after he reported on the realities of living in a new estate in Croydon.

Ayokunle, who is 6’5”, wrote of his experience after visiting a development by Pocket Homes, where the flats are 38sqm and roughly 3.5m wide.

His first-person piece about the experience received 100,000 page views and it was MyLondon’s most read story that week.

Ayokunle, 27, said: “My aim as a community reporter is to be the person that highlights marginalised communities and gives them a voice.

“Minority communities in London have negative associations with crime and I want to showcase their successes and the good things they are up to.”