BBC Leeds has been running a community journalism project in Bradford in order to encourage people in the area to tell their own stories.

#MyBradford, which has just ended its 18-month run, was managed by BBC Leeds producer Jenny Eells, who said the project, focused on mobile journalism skills, helped to engage members of the community who had previously felt under-served by the broadcaster.

"We went out and trained people to become journalists and tell their stories in their own way, by using the kit they already had in their back pockets," she said.

"This was a way for the BBC to work and engage with the community in a different way, rather than interviewing them during breaking news stories and then just leaving again. It was about getting their voices heard."

After word spread about the project, Eells was inundated with requests from people who wanted to produce their own footage.

Eells carried out training sessions with groups and individuals to teach them how to film and edit on their phones, adapting her lessons to what people were looking to learn and what their strengths were.

"I'd host sessions at the volunteer centre where we'd go out and practise making films on our phones, and then I'd dash off to sit and brainstorm people's ideas. Then I might be out the next day filming with somebody," she said.

Eells did most of the training on an iPhone 5. She also organised training at the Bradford Literature Festival, where she ran digital storytelling workshops with people aged nine to 79 years old.

"The young people especially were very quick off the mark and could pick up the storytelling skills easily, but it was nice to work with people that hadn't even picked up a smartphone before and get them learning from scratch. We even had a grandmother learning alongside her grandson," she said.

"Sometimes people would tell me a story and I would film some of it but they would have full editorial control, but other times they did everything themselves.

"If we had a difference of artistic opinions, I would guide them but ultimately they had their own ideas and were in control of their own stories."

The scheme produced a diverse range of films, from Morris dancers explaining the decline in popularity of the activity, to a young Muslim who told the story of how racial tensions in the area left him scared to go out at night, to children living in a deprived area presenting their school on camera.

The #MyBradford website and YouTube channel hosted the footage, and people were also encourages to share photos and blog posts about the area.

"It was hugely rewarding to give people of all ages and backgrounds the ability to tell the stories they want to in their own way to the world – I was always busy with groups or individuals who wanted to get on board," she said.

Some of the stories even ended up on other BBC outlets such as BBC Arabic, and one young girl was able to use the video she created to support her application for an apprenticeship at Radio 1.

The films went from the small screen to the big screen, as BBC Leeds linked up with Bradford City of Film to showcase the footage on the big screen at City Park.

"It gave people an enormous kind of civic pride to see their work that they've created on a massive screen – 10,000 people walked past it everyday.

"People were shocked that they could produce high-quality footage, which has gone further afield than Bradford."

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