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Scheme matching unpaid media interns with spare rooms launches crowdfunder

A scheme matching unpaid media interns with mentors who can offer them free places to stay has raised more than £5,600 within 24 hours as part of a crowdfunding campaign aiming to “diversify the media”.

Press Pad launched in April 2018 and has so far placed 50 interns with senior journalists from the likes of Hello magazine and the Financial Times, who also offer advice and mentoring.

It is now hoping to raise £30,000 to hire a part-time coordinator to cope with an expected increase in demand for its services once it launches a new Airbnb-style platform in the New Year.

Press Pad co-founders BBC journalist Olivia Crellin (pictured, second right) and University of Kent journalism lecturer Laura Garcia (pictured, far left) will also use the money to go into colleges and universities and raise awareness to young people who might benefit.

The scheme aims to provide budding journalists who live outside big cities such as London with accommodation and advice so they can complete unpaid internships without struggling to cover high rents.

Social mobility charity The Sutton Trust estimated last year that the cost of undertaking an unpaid internship in London is more than £1,000 per month.

Press Pad said this “prices out talented people from diverse backgrounds who simply can’t afford to get their foot in the door”.

The scheme has helped some 93 per cent of participants – with an average age of 24 – to complete an unpaid internship so far.

Crellin said: “There are lots of very admirable mentorship schemes for people of colour, women, and those with disabilities but we believe that the true barrier – and one that affects many applicants classed as ‘diverse’ – is financial.

“We know there are so many people out there who work in the media but aren’t in a position to put an intern up in their home. This is their chance to get involved as well as anyone who really cares about making the media better.”

The Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation report in 2016 found that 11 per cent of journalists were from a working class background compared to 60 per cent of Britons overall.

This year The Sutton Trust found that 43 per cent of the UK’s 100 most influential editors and broadcasters, as per its News Media 100 list, went to private school. This compares to seven per cent of the general population.

Press Pad intern Narzra Ahmed, from Leicester, said this time last year she was “becoming really scared” her dream of becoming a music journalist would never happen as she did not know anyone in London.

Ahmed, who has now been accepted onto a journalism masters course at City University, said: “I realised there was no way I could afford to do work experience without that.

“I didn’t know anyone in journalism before I found Press Pad and I was really worried it was going to hold me back. Now I feel so much more confident that I’m going to make it as a journalist.”

The fundraiser has been launched as part of Crowdfunder’s Back Her Business competition with Nat West, which means Press Pad could receive an extra £10,000 if it reaches its target and impresses the judges.

Picture: Press Pad

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