Through its successive editorships over the years KIRKSTALL MATTERS has moved with the times and has grown to the publication it is today. The magazine comes out three times a year, spans around 60 pages, has a wide range of content from dozens of contributors and is supported by nearly 50 advertisers. Even when the magazine is returned from the printers, there are 25 delivery rounds where our distributors very kindly deliver by hand to local association members.
We are proud to be where we are now, and it stands as a testament to all those who have been involved over the years.
It is often forgotten, however, that the magazine is produced and distributed entirely by volunteers, who give up their free time to play a part for their community. Many of these volunteers are the same people who help Kirkstall Festival to happen, or plant for Kirkstall In Bloom, or help represent our community to local developers. For many of them, the KVCA is only one part of their local involvement – they may be part of allotment associations, sports committees or other voluntary organisations. Of course they also have their personal lives, careers and families.
They do all of these things not because they are paid to, or are obliged to, or are expected to, but because they want to help our community to flourish.
Despite ongoing calls for help we still do not have the number of volunteers required to continue running the magazine along with the other interests of the association. In short, there are very few pairs of hands to achieve everything that we want. With the time that our volunteers spend on the magazine’s production and distribution we could achieve so much more.
The effort of the KVCA should be placed on finding the most effective way to achieve its core objective: “to promote the benefit of the inhabitants of Kirkstall and the neighbourhood and act as a pressure group on developments affecting Kirkstall”. It is therefore important that we assess whether we can accomplish more for our community by changing the way we engage with it.
Since the magazine was started in 1978 the way that we communicate has changed dramatically. The advent of the internet means that communication is wider and quicker than ever before and news can be delivered instantly. Our own website already has the ability for contributors to write articles directly into it, link these to Facebook and Twitter and gain responses from readers within minutes of it being published.
With such an effort being required to produce the physical magazine our website does suffer however, and it is noticeable that the postings on it are few and far between as time does afford us the ability to do both. We are therefore missing out on engaging with a very wide audience regularly and quickly.
We sometimes find that with KIRKSTALL MATTERS only being produced every 4 months it can sometimes be too late to react to an issue or article raised within it. Our most successful attempts at raising volunteer interest has been gained through electronic communication. By publishing local news, events, opportunities to get involved and articles to our website, everyone in our community can become a contributor, everyone can respond to what others say and everyone can become part of making Kirkstall a more active community.
Of course, not all our members have the internet, and we will need to look at how we can continue to engage with those that do not. However, for the majority this will be a more informative, timely and interactive way of communicating and the effort involved would be spread evenly throughout the year.
A weekly email would be sent to all subscribers which provides a summary of all recent postings and news, and could include a diary of upcoming events and meetings.
Anyone could submit news and articles at any time (although these are moderated to ensure they are appropriate), meaning that we always have an up-to-date view on our community, rather than a 4-monthly snapshot as with the magazine.
We could potentially continue to advertise local businesses on the website, to help raise some funds for KVCA running costs.
We could re-evaluate the need for membership subs as there would be very low associated print costs, attracting many new members who could get involved.
We love the printed version of KIRKSTALL MATTERS but without substantial help and a fully resourced team we need to assess if we can justify the effort required for its production and distribution.
Simon, Editor, KIRKSTALL MATTERS
This issue will be discussed at the KVCA meeting on 27th February at 8pm at Kirkstall Leisure Centre, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at Kirkstall Matters, 19 Norman Street, Leeds, LS5 3JN