Newsquest Media Group is one of the UK’s leading local media companies, and over the last ten years alone has given more than £3 million to help charitable community projects all over the country.
The trustees have had to make difficult choices from a large number of deserving applications, but they narrowed the list down to those which they thought would deliver the most worthwhile practical benefits to communities served by Newsquest’s local news brands.
Grants are made on merit, says Newsquest, and Scotland was the stand-out winner this year. Among the grants made was one of £10,000 towards buying and kitting out a caravan for the Glasgow Children's Holiday Scheme, which has been well-supported locally in the past by the Evening Times. Another £5,000 goes to equip a new community café in Clackmannanshire. And a grant of more than £8,000 was made to a group regenerating a run-down public park for the community at Leven in Fife.
The hospice movement attracted favour from the trustees again this year. An organisation called “Hospice at Home” delivers palliative care in Cumbria and is getting £10,000 for a van to support its fund-raising retail outlets in Wigton, Penrith and Carlisle (home to the News & Star).
Further south, life for the homeless at a hostel in St Helens in the North West should be made a little easier in the New Year with just under £10,000 for a walk-in shower and kitchen equipment, including a commercial dishwasher. And thanks to the Telegraph & Argus in Bradford, the Eccleshill Adventure Playground will be getting quite a bit more adventurous with nearly £9,000 worth of exciting new construction.
An ambitious environmental project on the River Aire in North Yorkshire caught the attention of the trustees. A grant of £9,000 will support a project to reclaim a stretch of waterway at North Beck near Keighley which has been overwhelmed by illegal fly-tipping – a scandal exposed in our local news titles. The money will back a movement of local residents and businesses in clearing the waste and putting in security measures to stop the dumping, rediscovering the area as a tranquil urban green space.
Many more grants were given across the UK for a myriad of different causes, including a helping hand for scout groups, support for people with dyslexia, sport for the disabled, special equipment for the visually-impaired and foodbanks for the needy.
The trustees say that they are always keen to help with those vital repairs to facilities that make all the difference and keep community activities going. So they are helping to replace the windows at a village hall in Essex, and fixing the main entrance door at an Age Concern centre in South London.
The Gannett Foundation UK, which makes the grants, retains a modest reserve to cater for urgent applications until the next round of awards are made in December 2019. Ad hoc applications can be made through any local Newsquest Media Group editor.
Special awards went to a number of charities connected with the news industry. The trustees gave £8,000 to the Journalism Diversity Fund of the National Council for the Training of Journalists, providing scholarships for trainee journalists from diverse backgrounds. A donation of £10,000 was made to the Journalist’s Charity and the same again to Newstraid, both benevolent organisations supporting people involved in the news industry who have fallen on hard times. And the trustees also gave £5,000 to the Rory Peck Trust for the welfare of freelance journalists.
Chairman of the trustees, Simon Westrop, said: “Amid all the political turmoil, real life goes on of course. And it is a privilege for the trustees to be able to do a little something to help our communities where we can.
“If your application did not succeed this time, please don’t be discouraged, but look at the applications that have won grants and think how you can come up with even better ideas next year.
“Often we think the best applications are not the headline-grabbers but the small ones that meet a particular need and instantly improve daily life. For instance, the new kettle the community centre has been wanting for ages. So think practically.”
Applications for grants are invited by advertisement in Newsquest Media Group newspapers from the end of July.