Connectivity campaign wins digital prize at AOP awards

Ed Walker, Maxine Dalziel and Mick Robins collected the award on behalf of the InYourArea team. Photo: AOP

Community news brand InYourArea has been recognised with an award for its Cash for Connectivity campaign, which helped provide online access for children whose education would otherwise remain offline.

Cash for Connectivity won the award for ‘Best Publisher-led Social Good Initiative or Campaign’ in the Publishing Excellence Awards category at the AOP Digital Publishing Awards 2022 held earlier this month.

Cash for Connectivity was launched back in January 2021 to stop children from falling further behind in their education because they were unable to access online learning at home during lockdown.

InYourArea, run by Reach, is a postcode-based news and information service which is used by around 10m people every month.

Ed Walker, Editor-in-Chief at InYourArea, said: “A big thank you to all our InYourArea users for their help in responding so quickly to the Cash for Connectivity appeal — and also to all those readers of Reach’s northern brands — plus those of our partner organisations too.

“January 2021 feels a lifetime ago, but it showed that in tough times, we have the power to do good — and quickly. I’m proud of everything we did to help more than 5,000 families across the North of England during that period of home-schooling.”

The pandemic had a devastating effect on all our children — kept away from friends, navigating home-schooling and the uncertainty over exams and futures.

But children from less well-off households had it worse — learning moved online, and whilst people rallied to provide laptops and devices, it became apparent that there was another issue — lack of access to the internet.

InYourArea joined the Cash for Connectivity appeal to help provide internet dongles — inexpensive hardware to connect laptops and up to 10 other devices per household to the web.

The emergency appeal helped 5,000 low-income households in the north get connected to the internet through the generosity of readers who raised nearly £50,000.

Judges for the AOP Digital Publishing Awards 2022 said: “This entry brought so many disparate partners together to achieve a tangible and immediate impact at speed. In Your Area took a problem relevant to their readers and found a solution quickly by taking a lead.”

Cash for Connectivity is part of the Laptops for Kids campaign, launched by technology entrepreneur David Richards and supported by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, WanDisco, Laptops for Kids, GoFundMe and a coalition of Reach’s northern titles, along with Newsquest and JPI Media titles, businesses, local authorities and MPs.

Ed told InYourArea’s readers: “So whilst we may have taken home the award — we know it belongs to the whole InYourArea community — thank you for your support.”

  • In 2022, Behind Local News aims to celebrate local journalism in all its forms through our 365 Acts of Local Journalism Project. Lets us know what you think should be included. You can email us here or contact us via Twitter on BehindLocalNews or on Facebook here.

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