How the Journalists’ Charity is helping industry workers feeling the 2020 pinch, and you can too

Join the Journalists’ Charity’s mission to support journalists nationwide as Ellen Bramley Industry Relations Manager and the charity, explains

Back in April, when the UK was in the early stages of the coronavirus crisis, the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden dubbed the news industry as “Britain’s fourth emergency service”.

It was an analogy that paid homage to the efforts of journalists up and down the country as they worked tirelessly to keep the nation informed during a time of great uncertainty.

In the months that ensued, the industry continued to perform an essential service for a nation in crisis, providing insight, scrutiny and challenge. During a national lockdown which led to curbs on most aspects of everyday life, working practices were turned upside down overnight, but journalists repeatedly stepped-up to the challenge — helping to keep communities together, inspiring heroes and in some cases saving lives. The stories that ran across news brands up and down the country once again underlined the importance of journalism to our society.

Throughout 2020, journalists have continually gone above and beyond the call of duty, campaigning on behalf of readers for the provision of everything from PPE to government grant schemes, free school meals to newspaper deliveries for the elderly. It was therefore no surprise that the World Without News report, published last month, uncovered that 66% of Brits now appreciate and value journalism more since the global pandemic began.

With more tiers being introduced and firebreaks and lockdowns happening, this is as true as ever, not least for those that contribute to smaller regional and local brands. But news teams may find themselves become more condensed with resources further stretched, putting additional pressure on staff and freelance journalists alike. At this difficult time, it is vital that the Journalists’ Charity increases its visibility and gets its message across.

Since the pandemic began, the Journalists Charity has prevented 15 journalists and their families from losing their homes. Hundreds of others affected by the crisis have received emergency assistance as part of a rapid response aimed at minimising stress and preserving mental health. To ensure we cater to a range of needs, we have also extended our support offer by providing free online skills sessions covering various themes relating to the industry. Additionally, we have some new grant opportunities coming up, including a support package designed for those who are new to journalism.

Here is where you can do your bit. By signing up to our newsletter as a free supporter and encouraging your colleagues and friends to do the same, you can stay up to date with industry news and upcoming offers. Fundamentally, connecting with a greater number of journalists will help us to keep in touch, allowing us to offer you the most effective help and support as you continue your career.

Joan, a freelance journalist who received support from us when her income had dried up in July, explained the long-term impact of our support. She said that aside from the short-term relief of bills getting paid, receiving assistance crucially means “you’re not wasting your time worrying about finance, you’re actually going out there and your digging for more work”.

Similarly, sports journalist Ross described the charity as a “huge lifeline” when the seasons ended prematurely, and work disappeared over night. He said “All the live matches were wiped out- and that is something I largely relied on. Support from the Journalists charity was absolutely invaluable, at a time when I felt scared and alone”.

The ability of the charity to continue its support and make a positive difference is inextricably linked to awareness levels amongst journalists. By spreading the word to your peers and encouraging them to sign up to our database, you can help us to support the sustainability of quality journalism- a crucial pillar to our democracy and indeed, our fourth emergency service.

Scan the QR code below to become part of the Journalists’ Charity database:

https://journalistscharity.org.uk/

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