Using their platforms to empower: Leeds Trinity alumni use their own experiences to inspire others

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Leeds Trinity Alumni George Arkley (right) and Haleema Saheed (2nd right) talking to students at Journalism and Media week.

By Shanine Bruder

Two young journalists are using their personal experiences to create a niche online presence that empowers and inspires their audiences, one focusing on sobriety and the other celebrating the hijabi culture.

George Arkley, freelance journalist and creator of the Instagram blog ‘Hungover It’ uses her talents as a content creator and relationship columnist to share her journey of sobriety with others.

The Instagram blog which was started just over a year ago, connects with its audience through posts, reels and graphics, covering topics from what you can do instead of drinking to how you can handle being a sober young woman in the media industry.

Talking to students during Journalism and Media Week at Leeds Trinity University, George said: ‘’I became really passionate about my sober journey, so I started the Instagram just to share my journey of mental health and sobriety.

‘’But also, from a career perspective to pinpoint myself in the media industry as a sobriety journalist, and that was the way I built my brand.’’

Despite having a constantly growing audience and brilliant engagement rates, combining your personal life and your work isn’t without its problems.

With a public platform comes a lack of privacy, and the threat that potential employers can create a perception of you from your social media.

Making a personal decision, George has chosen to continue creating ‘Hungover It’ as a public blog.

Speaking to students she explained why she made this decision: ‘’I think it’s a really important part of the industry not to hide your mental health but to embrace it.’’

Fellow alumna, community reporter for The Telegraph and Argus, Haleema Saheed is also using her platform as a reporter to create an online presence to start conversations and empower women who have achieved amazing things.

Haleema Saheed (2nd right) discussing her website ‘Hajabi culture’ at Journalism and Media Week.

Created in her third year of university, ‘Hijabi Culture’ highlights all the latest news and conversations about wearing the hijab as well as changing the perceptions and ideas associated with it.

Speaking to students, Haleema said: ‘’It was so interesting and eye-opening to see that there were so many women who looked like me and were doing really well in their industry.

‘’We never see that on the news, we never see people who are wearing scarves doing really well, so I wanted to push that narrative.’’

Using her platform, Haleema celebrates and portrays empowered women through news articles, feature articles and opinion pieces, covering topics from fashion to politics.

She also interacts with her audience by inviting them to share their stories and ideas with her to expand the hijabi narrative and ensure more voices are heard within the industry.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Voice, both George and Haleema encouraged students who are thinking about pursuing a blog or a website to use their own personal experiences as a stepping stone for their platform and to remain consistent.

What do you think?