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Newspape - Newspaper

NewstrAid – A year of change

NewstrAid was founded in 1839, counts Charles Dickens as one of its first presidents and has been providing welfare support for over 180 years. Although originally formed to support newspaper street vendors, the charity has adapted and evolved with the industry and today supports anyone who is or has been employed in the sale and distribution of newspapers and magazines in the UK.

The last year has been difficult for everyone but in truth, the issues that Covid-19 has created such as illness, bereavement or loss of earnings, are all issues that charities like NewstrAid were created to alleviate through financial help, emotional support or practical advice. We are proud to say that we have done our best to rise to the challenge of the pandemic and, even though we have had to adapt to working remotely, we have had one of our busiest years and have managed to enhance the support offered to our industry in a number of different ways.

Our dedicated group of volunteer almoners across the country are the human face of NewstrAid, visiting new and existing beneficiaries on behalf of the charity. This is one of the most valued services we provide and so when the restrictions meant that no visits would be possible, we were very aware what an impact this would have on our beneficiaries, many of whom were having to isolate. Unsurprisingly our almoners have been fantastic and made sure they kept in telephone contact with their beneficiaries during this time.

We have also tried to make our beneficiaries feel less alone by sending out small gifts during the year, starting with a treat hamper in May 2020, which was supported by our industry partners, masks and hand sanitiser in August and finally some chocolates at Easter. The feedback we have received from these small gestures has been heart-warming.

The last year has made us all realise the importance of emotional health and we are delighted to have recently agreed a 3-year partnership with Hearst UK which is supporting our work in this area in memory of its former CEO, Terry Mansfield. Under this arrangement we have launched a new Wellbeing Suite for everyone in our industry which features a wealth of online resources alongside our free Wellbeing Helpline.

The creation of this Wellbeing Suite was hot on the heels of the launch of a new website and the development of our online activity.  Unfortunately, the pandemic put a stop to many organised events that allow us to engage with the industry and raise important funds, so we moved our annual carol service online, allowing hundreds of friends and supporters to join us and celebrate the festive season in what was a great end to the year and the perfect way to kick-off Christmas.

Although we are hopefully now coming out of the most difficult period, we are still looking for ways to carry on our work remotely and in recent weeks we have been involved in 5KMay a national fundraising initiative. This has seen the industry we support come together to take on a 5k challenge and make a donation to NewstrAid.

With our CEO Mike Mirams retiring in August 2021, we are no doubt about to embark on a new and equally busy era at NewstrAid and are looking forward to continuing to adapt and evolve to support the ever-changing industry we are there to serve.

To find out more about NewstrAid visit www.newstraid.org.uk