With hours left to vote for the Gazette’s Jam Jar Army as part of a national campaign, representatives of those supported by the Army sum up what a difference it has made to them.
The Jam Jar Army is one of 30 campaigns nationwide in the running for the Making a Difference crown.
Launched on Monday at the start of the Newspaper Society’s Local Newspaper Week, the Making a Difference campaign highlights the power of local media – in print, online, on mobile and social media – to achieve positive change.
And you can vote for the Jam Jar Army until midnight tonight.
The winner will be announced as a special award at the Society of Editors Regional Press Awards in London on Friday.
The Jam Jar Army was launched in 2011, raising money for HospiceCare North Northumberland. Rebecca Taylor, from the charity, said: “This is an amazing community fund-raising initiative and we are so pleased with the support that gets behind it.”
The following year, the Alnwick Playhouse Youth Theatre was the beneficiary and dog charity SHAK won the reader vote for 2013. Jo Potts, the Playhouse manager, said: “It was fantastic for us, it really made a difference so please support it, it’s brilliant.”
Each year, our readers have helped to smash the £10,000 target, raising more than £40,000 so far. Stephen Wylie, from SHAK, added: “The Jam Jar Army, run by the Northumberland Gazette, has been absolutely brilliant for us over the last 12 months, not only on just the fund-raising side, which actually raised us over £16,000, but on the awareness in the local community.”
This year’s charity is The Stephen Carey Fund, which is raising money to provide defibrillators and other life-saving equipment and training to north Northumberland. The fund’s David Wilson said: “It’s been amazing awareness that we just couldn’t possibly have envisaged.”
But it’s not just residents of north Northumberland that have been reflecting on the key role of media such as the Gazette this week.
Dame Helen Mirren is one of the celebrities supporting Local Newspaper Week.
“Through their reporting on local events and performances, local and regional newspapers play an important part in promoting and sustaining the arts at a local level,” she said. “Theatres up and down Britain rely on this exposure and support from their local papers to communicate effectively with both new and existing audiences.
“Of course, this is not the only important function performed by local newspapers – they campaign on behalf of their readers, expose wrongdoing and corruption, and uphold free speech.”
Another supporter, Olympic triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards, added: “Local newspapers are vital to the communities they serve because of the work they do to highlight important causes and issues. By giving people who might not otherwise be heard a powerful voice, local papers can bring about real, positive change for individuals and organisations who badly need help but have nowhere else to turn.
“In the age of social media in which anyone can be a publisher, local newspapers’ role as a source of trusted and accurate information has become even more vital.”