By Jacqueline Grima
This week, staff and students from Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) Department of Journalism, Information and Communications, working alongside the Somali Adult Social Care Agency (SASCA), launched the first edition of the Somali community newspaper, SASCA News.
The launch began with a short talk by MMU lecturer and print journalist Dave Porter, who explained how the idea for the project came about. SASCA, who support the integration of the Somali community in Manchester, discovered the need for an accessible newspaper when they realised that a large portion of Somali speakers were having difficulty following current affairs in the UK. This meant that they missed out on important news stories, such as those surrounding this year’s general election, which may directly impact on their lives. SASCA subsequently approached MMU for help.
Asked how he came to be involved with the project, Dave told Humanity Hallows, “MMU’s Faculty of Education had had a previous involvement with SASCA and had hoped for further projects. When she was asked for advice about starting up a newspaper, Carol Packham, a course leader from the education department, forwarded an email to me to ask if anybody would be able to offer any help. Part of my brief this year was outreach work so I got in touch with SASCA, and we discussed what they wanted and the logistics and practicalities of setting up the newspaper. It’s been a great community project that has been very worthwhile all around.”
The first edition of the newspaper, produced with help from a team of first-year MMU journalism students, focuses on SASCA’s work in the community, addressing issues such as health, social welfare and leisure. It also features a sports section. The benefits of this project to the Somali community include the prevention of social isolation and increased independence. Dave Porter said, “The newspaper will give the Somali community a more visible presence as well as a confidence boost. The next editions will be very information-based, including information about health, welfare and jobs, all the areas which a migrant community may not have access to. It will also help the work of SASCA become more widely known in the Manchester area.” Ahmed Mohamed, a SASCA volunteer, added, “It is a great thing for the Somali community. Reading something in their own language gives them confidence.”
Accompanied by a translator, SASCA’s chairman, Mohamed Jeilani, thanked the university for their support: “Thanks to MMU, this is the first Somali community newspaper produced in Manchester. I would like to reiterate that it would not have been possible to produce without the close cooperation between MMU and SASCA.”
SASCA News is printed in both English and Somali to make it accessible to the whole community. Its debut edition has initially been distributed throughout Moss Side, Fallowfield and Hulme and can also be found in local mosques and coffee shops. It is the hope of both SASCA and MMU to eventually release the newspaper on a monthly basis.