Express & Star: A proud history of making a difference
To mark Local Newspaper Week, we show how the Express & Star’s campaigning journalism has helped change people’s lives for the better
Ever since it was founded almost 130 years ago, the Express & Star has a proud history of campaigning on behalf of the communities it serves.
As with all local newspapers, it has its readers at heart – something which has become increasingly important in an age where the ways the public can devour news is changing and developing at a rapid rate.
This week marks the 20th annual Local Newspaper Week, with this year’s focus being on how newspapers make a difference.
Through powerful editorial campaigning, the E&S has helped to change people’s lives for the better across the Black Country and Staffordshire, sparking real positive change.
One of the newspaper’s most recent campaigns is also one of its most successful.
After running a series of stories highlighting how food banks were struggling to cope with an increase in homelessness in the region, the E&S launched Feed a Family This Christmas in 2016.
It called for food donations which would then be distributed to homeless people and families through food banks.
It was launched by Loose Women star Lisa Riley and backed by such names as the Vamps, Corrie star Antony Cotton, Olympian Joe Clarke and Slade’s Dave Hill.
And people and businesses came out in their droves to support the campaign.
In the first year more than 9,000 items were given out, including food, toiletries, children’s toys, winter clothing and cash.
Building on that support, the 2017 campaign was even bigger, with one supermarket agreeing to keep a special drop-off point and more than 12,000 items donated.
Feed a Family This Christmas organiser Heather Large, said: “Thanks to this campaign hundreds of people across the region have received much-needed help at what can be a difficult time of the year for those who are struggling to make ends meet. We have also helped to raise the profile of local food banks, which do an amazing job in testing circumstances.
“Hopefully Feed a Family This Christmas will continue to support those that need help the most.”
The E&S also endeavours to give a boost to our local communities through its annual Great Big Thank You Awards.
The awards, which were launched last year, highlight those members of the community who go the extra mile to help others, often with little or no reward for themselves.
Teachers, youngsters, community champions, volunteers, and fundraisers are among those recognised, as well as an ambassador for the region.
The event culminated in a glittering ceremony at Molineux, where the spotlight fell on those who have done their bit to make the Black Country and Staffordshire such great places to live and work.
Newspapers can also have a major impact on local economies, with the E&S’s Green Shoots Plus scheme being a prime example.
Over a two year period the newspaper helped to create and preserve more than 600 jobs thanks to £4 million worth of grants to local businesses.
More than 65 firms received grants of up to £150,000, enabling them to buy in new machinery, expand operations and take on new staff.
Then there was the flagship Ladder for the Black Country scheme, which was initiated by the E&S due to concerns about the sky high levels of youth unemployment across the region.
Over four years 1,400 apprenticeships were created for young people, with the runaway success of the scheme and royal approval thanks to the backing of the Duke of York.
The newspaper also played a major role in bringing in new legislation banning the sale of potentially deadly Zombie knives, through a campaign with West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson.
There have been many more initiatives that have highlighted the things we are all proud of in our local communities, from the annual Business awards to the E&S’s role in the Wolverhampton Rotary Clubs’ Young Citizen of the Year contest.
The way that news is consumed – and delivered – may well be changing, but the E&S will always strive to make a difference for the people of the Black Country and Staffordshire.