Project Feed: The six month campaign which delivered in just six weeks
In what is the most turbulent time in history for regional media, a small newspaper title has proven the power of a classic fundraising campaign in an engaged community.
The Chorley Guardian, a weekly paid-for title owned by JPI Media in Lancashire, launched the ambitious Project Feed Chorley with the aim of raising £20,000 to build a new food bank building just before Christmas.
Editor Nicola Adam was inspired to launch the fundraising bid after a visit to the existing LW Storehouse food bank, in the damp and mouldy cellar of the Living Waters church in the town, left her horrified.
Volunteers, often elderly, were stooped in the low-ceiling room trying to organise parcels and organisers told of unprecedented demand, particularly from families, as the vagaries of Universal Credit shortfalls left them absolutely desperate.
She agreed to launch a campaign there and then, joining forces with Chorley community radio station Chorley FM and Chorley Football Club to stage events and provide a venue.
Reporter Tom Earnshaw was briefed to lead the campaign to expose the reality of those in need — what resonated in his emotionally charged interviews across the paper, website and social media channels was that it could be any of us with a change in circumstance.
The words Christmas was left out of the campaign name deliberately, anticipating it would take a minimum six months to raise that amount of money. It took six weeks.
Money came flooding in from every corner of the community, large and small amounts, often anonymous.
Now Project Feed Chorley has raised £30,000 and counting and quadrupled the amount of food given to the food bank, with schools, pubs and the travellers community among those determined to help others.
Work was starting on the new building by December, with local firms donating material and labour, and in April it was officially opened. The money is still coming in.
Now this small campaign has been shortlisted for Weekly Newspaper campaign of the year at the Regional Press awards.
It has additionally been shortlisted for the making a Difference award as part of the inaugural Journalism Matters campaign, which highlights the vital role trusted news media journalism plays in our democratic society.