Category Archives: Billy

Week 5: Learning how to write feature articles

Jan and Yousif writing up their articles.

Jan and Yousif writing up their articles.

By Billy

This week we have learnt about how to write features, by our special guest tutor and freelance journalist Veronique Mistiaen.

Veronique spent Thursday morning teaching us the key points to writing features and explained the differences between a feature and a news story. After we went to interview this weeks social enterprises she guided us through each step in the process of writing one.

For the interviews we were paired up again this week, with one half of each pair taking on photography duties.  Sean and Sharon visited an organisation called Each One Teach One, where Sean interviewed their director, Sarah McLoughin and Sharon took photographs to accompany their feature.  Sam and Ian went to Generation Hackney and Sam interviewed Richard Hearn, while Ian was the days photographer.  Jan and myself met the dapper Tom Beechcroft, The Jaunty Flaneur’s director and  Jan took on the  interview duties and I took the photos.

Back at base we had a further informative talk from Veronique and then began work transcribing and writing up interviews, and selecting the photographs we would use. I learnt that feature writing is distinctly different from news writing and therefore requires different skills, which I sensed already as a reader but it was great to examine this in more detail and learn about it from a writer’s perspective.

We only have one week left of the course now (boo hoo!), and will spend next week learning about how to promote ourselves as writers.  After that who knows what the future will hold?


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Week 5: Billy’s Jaunty Flaneur photo feature


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Hackney Pirates, getting kids reading with a swagger

Ship of Adventures

Pic: Jan Weuterisse: The Ship of Adventures provides a fun environment for kids to learn

By Billy Guedalla

Hackney Pirates is an innovative literacy project for children set-up in 2010. After three and a half years and five homes they have finally secured a permanent home. We went along to have a look around their new premises in Dalston, East London, and meet founding director, Catriona Maclay.

Catriona previously taught Citizenship in a secondary school, where she struggled with witnessing so many children fail to reach their potential. However she never lost her belief in education as “an optimistic and positive thing to be involved in”. Continue reading

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Historic Building At Risk in Clapton

DSCF1734A cluster of 17th century buildings facing Clapton Pond have been made available for sale by the charity that owns them, prompting concerns that they could be demolished, despite having listed status.

The buildings were originally built to provide housing for elderly local women and did so up until 2012.  As well as flats and a courtyard, the building complex contains a chapel said to be the smallest in the country.

Despite the buildings having grade II listed status, developers could demolish them if given permission by Hackney Council.  It is not yet known if this would be something future owners may attempt. 

Local Councillor Ian Rathbone, who is chair of the Clapton Pond Neighbourhood Action Group, said they “don’t anticipate demolition, just because of the building’s listed status” but added “we are keen to meet with any potential buyer, and expect that this would happen through the formal planning process” as they seek reassurances over the buildings’ future.

The Council does not usually approve the demolition of listed buildings, according to its website.  Any decision would only be made after consultation with English Heritage.

The charity, Dr Spurstowe and Bishops Wood Almshouses, say that they intend to use the money raised by the sale to pay for the construction of new homes with which they could provide more social housing for the elderly.  They had initially hoped to refurbish and continue to use the almshouses but the cost was prohibitive. 

 Father Rob Wickham, member of the board of trustees of the charity and rector at St. John at Hackney Church said: “As a charity for housing elderly people, rather than a charity to protect heritage buildings, the charity cannot justify spending that kind of money” and pointed out that “Anyone who bought it would of course have to follow the strict guidance of English Heritage when refurbishing it”.

 Previous residents of the buildings, called the Bishops Wood Almshouses, were moved by the charity that owns them into alternative accommodation in 2012 and they have lain empty ever since.

 Marcus Soak, who works in a shop nearby, said: “it’s better [they] be used for something than lying empty. Anything is better than empty buildings”.


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Week 2: Billy’s photos!






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February 21, 2014 · 6:54 pm

Heroic Designer Makes Bench for Heroes

A picnic bench designed by a severely disabled veteran and made entirely from recycled materials has been donated to the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester.  Alex Stringer, designer of the “Alex Bench”, lost three limbs while on patrol in Afghanistan when he was 20 years old.

The bench, which allows wheelchairs users to sit comfortably alongside able-bodied people, is manufactured by the social enterprise Realise Futures.  It was presented to the centre by Realise Futures Chief Executive Sarah Sharlott in a ceremony on Tuesday, 11th February.



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