BY CLAIRE MEADOWS
Some newspapers talk a lot about helping all the lonely people, not just asking Beatles-fashion where they come from but what can be done to lift the depressing blight of being alone.
However, one newspaper has come up with a brilliant idea to brighten up the lives of the elderly who sometimes don’t see anyone for weeks and even months on end.
From today (Monday 16 November) until Christmas, up to 25,000 copies of the Yorkshire Post are to be given away free to vulnerable or lonely residents in lockdown.
The move, made possible thanks to funding from Barclays Bank, was announced by Post Editor James Mitchinson in an editorial on Saturday 14 November.
Inspired by work undertaken by the paper during the first National lockdown back in March, Mitchinson said that for people living alone, 2020 may turn out to be the hardest winter on record and “it behoves all of us to help those for whom lockdown might as well be house arrest”.
He wrote: “It was obvious to all of us here at The Yorkshire Post that the provision of information — trustworthy, unsensationalised and, above all, locally relevant — had never been more important.
“It was clear, too, that with rationalisation in the commercial radio industry and across many smaller independent newspapers, The Yorkshire Post is one of the few remaining channels to access that information — not least for readers who could not afford to have broadband on tap.
“It became quickly apparent, though, that it was not just businesses that were vulnerable to the pandemic; individuals and families were suffering, too.
“And we already knew, from our years of campaigning to combat the psychological affliction of loneliness among our older readers, of the debilitating effects of isolation.
“So we imagined our business model on its head and struck up new partnerships with local authorities, faith groups, charities and philanthropic trusts in our communities, who helped us to identify people who were struggling even to afford the modest cost of their daily newspaper.
“With the help of these organisations, our newspapers went into emergency parcels that included food and essentials. It was a source of immense personal pride that we were able to help so many people.”
Mitchinson added that, during the second lockdown, Barclays had taken up his invitation to help. Describing it as “a partnership born of our mutual desire to help the most needy, deserving and vulnerable in Yorkshire”, the free copies would be distributed from today (Monday 16 November).
He added: “There will be no complicated forms to fill in. The distribution will be done sensitively, for not being able to afford a newspaper is a stigma in itself. But with the help of Barclays, we hope we will be able to go on doing this through the dark nights, beyond Christmas and into the new year.
“In all, some 25,000 newspapers will find their way into the homes and hands of people who otherwise would have gone through lockdown with little contact with anyone else, and with nothing like the same level of information from local radio or television.”
James has invited people to contact the YP directly with suggestions on who could be supported. The email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
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