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Mark­ing Jour­nal­ism Mat­ters Week

- Health · Society · Journalism · Bath · The Focus Group · Bristol · Facebook · Susan Collins · Weston-super-Mare · Weston General Hospital · Somerset County · Yeovil · Yeovil Town F.C.

At Som­er­set Live, we are proud to bring you the lat­est and most im­por­tant sto­ries from across the county to you ev­ery day.

Whether it be the lat­est travel in­for­ma­tion, news from in­side our com­mu­ni­ties or im­por­tant cam­paigns in our ar­eas, we pride our­selves on be­ing at the fore­front of the big is­sues and high­light­ing them to those who de­serve to know about them.

All of our news sto­ries are brought to you by a team of highly trained dig­i­tal jour­nal­ists, sup­ported by ex­pe­ri­enced con­tent edi­tors who check ev­ery ar­ti­cle be­fore pub­li­ca­tion.

It is that at­ten­tion to de­tail and com­mit­ment to bring­ing you the lat­est news that has seen our sto­ries read more than 109 mil­lion times in the last 12 months and gen­er­ate a loyal au­di­ence that has grown by more than 90 per cent since last year.

What is most re­ward­ing for us, as a team com­mit­ted to serv­ing our read­ers, is when the sto­ries we write make a tan­gi­ble dif­fer­ence to our com­mu­ni­ties.

To mark Jour­nal­ism Mat­ters Week, here are 11 ex­am­ples of how we have helped in­flu­ence our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in the last 12 months.

1. We helped bring about a change in a hos­pi­tal’s vis­i­tor pol­icy dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic

In April, we cov­ered the story of a nurse at the Royal United Hos­pi­tal in Bath, who de­scribed the de­ci­sion to ban all vis­its to ter­mi­nally ill coro­n­avirus pa­tients as “cruel be­yond be­lief”.

The Royal United Hos­pi­tals Bath NHS Foun­da­tion Trust stopped al­most all vis­its as it looked to min­imise the spread of the virus, in­clud­ing to pa­tients re­ceiv­ing end-of-life care as a re­sult of Covid-19 and ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients with an un­der­ly­ing health con­di­tion who had also tested pos­i­tive for the dis­ease.

It meant that coro­n­avirus pa­tients faced the prospect of dy­ing alone at the hos­pi­tal.

The nurse, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied, called the de­ci­sion a “grave in­jus­tice”.

The week af­ter we ran the story, the hos­pi­tal changed its vis­i­tor pol­icy so that end-of-life pa­tients could be vis­ited by their loved ones.

2. We high­lighted con­cerns over gov­ern­ment-funded food parcels for vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in Som­er­set A cou­ple from Som­er­set were left “dis­gusted” by the food pack­ages be­ing sent to the vul­ner­a­ble dur­ing the coro­n­avirus lock­down – say­ing they were re­duced to tears by their poor qual­ity.

The gov­ern­ment-funded free pack­ages of es­sen­tial food and other items were be­ing dis­trib­uted to vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple un­able to go and do their own shop­ping dur­ing the lock­down pe­riod.

Susan Collins re­ceived th­ese pack­ages as she has a num­ber of pre-ex­ist­ing health con­di­tions.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing a first pack­age of good qual­ity items, Susan and part­ner Tim, who are from Rad­stock, said some items in their sub­se­quent gov­ern­ment food pack­ages had been ex­tremely poor in qual­ity and the down­turn had left them un­able to take it any more.

We high­lighted the is­sue in this story in May.

3. We helped peo­ple keep track of the pan­demic with daily up­dates on lo­cal cases and out­breaks

Keep­ing our read­ers up to date with the lat­est and most ac­cu­rate coro­n­avirus data has been a cor­ner­stone of our news cov­er­age in re­cent months.

To help peo­ple check the lat­est in­for­ma­tion for their area, we pub­lished a story show­ing peo­ple how they should check the lat­est fig­ures where they raised. Our cases checker has since been used more than a quar­ter of a mil­lion times.

4. We helped to raise more than £160,000 for home­less peo­ple in Bath

Sup­ported by the Bath Chron­i­cle and Bath Live over the months of De­cem­ber and Jan­uary, the Ju­lian House Christ­mas Ap­peal cam­paign sought to raise not just vi­tal fund­ing but also in­crease aware­ness of the com­plex is­sues which im­pact on home­less peo­ple in the city.

A record-break­ing amount of money was raised for Bath’s home­less as a re­sult of the ap­peal as a

late surge in sup­port saw dona­tions pass its £160,000 tar­get, with £166,116 do­nated or pledged.

The money went to­wards projects in­clud­ing sup­ported hous­ing, do­mes­tic abuse ser­vices, ac­cess to work­place ex­pe­ri­ence and train­ing, emer­gency hos­tel pro­vi­sion and an out­reach team.

5. We helped to break the news of a Covid-19 out­break in­side We­ston-su­per-mare’s hos­pi­tal Af­ter We­ston Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal was placed into an emer­gency shut­down in May fol­low­ing a spike in coro­n­avirus cases, we broke the news of how staff were cop­ing with the mea­sures.

The hos­pi­tal was ur­gently closed to new pa­tients af­ter a sud­den spike in cases, in what the Univer­sity Hos­pi­tals Bris­tol and We­ston NHS Foun­da­tion Trust called a “pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure in or­der to main­tain the safety of staff and pa­tients”.

We re­vealed how an anony­mous source at the trust claimed the virus spread be­yond wards ded­i­cated to fight­ing coro­n­avirus at the We­ston­super-mare hos­pi­tal.

The in­sider praised ef­forts to keep staff safe from a new coro­n­avirus spike, while re­veal­ing that the virus out­break at We­ston Gen­eral had left the hos­pi­tal “nearly empty”.

6. We helped to press for the re­open­ing of Som­er­set’s re­cy­cling cen­tres

As the coro­n­avirus pan­demic left many of our re­cy­cling cen­tres closed, calls grew for them to re­open in or­der to tackle the prob­lem of fly­tip­ping.

The Som­er­set Waste Part­ner­ship closed all 16 house­hold re­cy­cling cen­tres across the county fol­low­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s guide­lines on non-es­sen­tial travel in March, and ad­vised peo­ple to hold onto waste which they would nor­mally take to the tip – in­clud­ing gar­den waste.

But as waste mounted at homes around Som­er­set, we re­ported the grow­ing calls for them to re­open through April, in­clud­ing from Bridg­wa­ter and West Som­er­set MP Ian Lid­dell-grainger.

The ma­jor­ity of re­cy­cling cen­tres across Som­er­set sub­se­quently re­opened in May.

7. We mon­i­tored and scru­ti­nised fig­ures to ex­pose how coro­n­avirus hit the most vul­ner­a­ble in so­ci­ety

One of the dark­est points of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic was the num­ber of deaths that oc­curred among care home res­i­dents who were sus­pected of hav­ing the virus.

We re­ported how deaths among peo­ple placed in care homes by Som­er­set County Coun­cil in April were around fifty per cent higher than the av­er­age for re­cent years, while nearly 200 health and so­cial care work­ers in the county tested pos­i­tive for Covid-19 at the height of the pan­demic, more than one in five of those tested.

It helped to bring to light the se­ri­ous is­sues that care homes were fac­ing in a very dif­fi­cult pe­riod.

8. We helped Som­er­set ex­press its grief as fam­i­lies faced loss from coro­n­avirus

The coro­n­avirus pan­demic has shat­tered thou­sands of lives up and down the coun­try.

Lat­est es­ti­mates sug­gest that sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple have died af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for the virus since the be­gin­ning of the pan­demic in March.

Among them were twin sis­ters who grew up in Yeovil and died within three days of each other af­ter con­tract­ing the virus and a “so­cia­ble” and “jovial” farmer from Frome. Shar­ing trib­utes from those who loved them most helped Som­er­set ex­press its grief.

9. We cel­e­brated the in­cred­i­ble work done by NHS he­roes, in care homes and by mem­bers of the pub­lic across Som­er­set Quite of­ten, it is the worst of sit­u­a­tions that brings out the best in peo­ple. The coro­n­avirus pan­demic was no ex­cep­tion to that, as we high­lighted the work done by the heroic staff work­ing for the NHS and by the gen­eral pub­lic in Som­er­set dur­ing what was a tu­mul­tuous few months.

Not only did it give those peo­ple the recog­ni­tion they de­served for their ef­forts, but it en­abled our read­ers to say thank you.

10. We tried to give peo­ple in Som­er­set a di­ver­sion and dis­trac­tion dur­ing lonely and try­ing times

While the prospect of lock­down proved chal­leng­ing for hun­dreds of thou­sands of Som­er­set res­i­dents, we strove to keep them en­ter­tained dur­ing the dull and lonely mo­ments.

As well as pro­vid­ing the lat­est up­dates around the pan­demic, we sought to pro­vide en­ter­tain­ment for our read­ers by pro­duc­ing quizzes and ways to pass the time.

11. We helped peo­ple in Yeovil fight to keep the town’s only hospice open to in-pa­tients When St Mar­garet’s Hospice an­nounced a pro­posal to close its in-pa­tient unit in Yeovil, thou­sands of peo­ple signed a pe­ti­tion call­ing on the char­ity to re­verse its de­ci­sion.

We took an ac­tive role in the Save St Mar­garet’s Hospice Cam­paign and cov­ered the sto­ries of sev­eral peo­ple who were des­per­ately fight­ing to save it over a pe­riod of sev­eral months.

Al­though the cam­paign to keep the in-pa­tient unit open was ul­ti­mately un­suc­cess­ful, we helped to draw at­ten­tion to an ex­tremely emo­tive is­sue in the town.

■ Do you have a cam­paign or a story that you would like us to high­light? Please con­tact us by email­ing som­er­set­copy@reach­ or via the Som­er­set Live or Bath Live Face­book pages.

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 ??  ?? Ju­lian House fundrais­ing di­rec­tor Ce­cil Weir
Ju­lian House fundrais­ing di­rec­tor Ce­cil Weir
 ?? Pic: Len Co­p­land ?? Sad­ness at the news St Mar­garet’s Hospice in-pa­tient unit would close de­spite a cam­paign to save it
Pic: Len Co­p­land Sad­ness at the news St Mar­garet’s Hospice in-pa­tient unit would close de­spite a cam­paign to save it
 ??  ?? Vol­un­teers from Yeovil Free­wheel­ers Blood Bikes an­swered a call to trans­port blood sam­ples from a coro­n­avirus test cen­tre in Som­er­set
Vol­un­teers from Yeovil Free­wheel­ers Blood Bikes an­swered a call to trans­port blood sam­ples from a coro­n­avirus test cen­tre in Som­er­set

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