Success Continues For Making a Difference Winning Campaigns

Past Making a Difference winning campaigns such as The News and Star’s hospital campaign #SaveOurServices, and The Dundee Courier and Advertiser’s Franks Law dementia campaign are continuing to support and improve local communities.

Making a Difference, run by Local Media Works, highlights the power of local newspapers to campaign for positive change in the communities they serve. The annual Award sees members of the public vote for their favourite campaign from the past year, with the winner announced at the Regional Press Awards.

The News and Star’s, Save our Services, was launched in 2016, in response to plans proposing to cut health services across north and west Cumbria – including sending women in labour 40 miles away to give birth and closing community hospital beds. 

In July 2019, after several years of campaigning, the NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body decided to retain the maternity services in Whitehaven, following a 12-month review. Speaking in the House of Commons, then Prime Minister, Theresa May said: “We welcome the Clinical Commissioning Group’s decision to retain those consultant-led services in west Cumbria.

“Better Births established that personalised care means safer care and greater choice should be made available to women. They should be allowed to make decisions about the support they need and where they prefer to give birth. I think that this is a good decision that has been taken.”

Frank’s Law, the Dundee Courier and Advertiser’s campaign, called for financial support for those suffering with early dementia. The campaign was inspired by Frank Kopel, a local footballer, who played for Dundee United. Frank was diagnosed with dementia at an early age, and the paper decided in 2015 to campaign for Frank’s Law to support the thousands of people in similar situations.

Then Health Secretary, Shona Robison MSP, pledged to consider Frank’s Law in January 2017, and in June of that year, the Scottish Government lodged a bill at Holyrood to extend free care to under-65s with conditions such as dementia. 

After six years of campaigning, Frank’s Law came into effect on 1 April 2019, and was estimated to benefit at least 9,000 Scottish families. Frank’s wife, Amanda Kopel, has since set up the Frank Kopel Foundation, which raises money for dementia research.

Kath Sansom, a Cambs Times reporter, began Sling the Mesh after suffering ongoing pain from a gynaecology operation. Kath underwent an operation to have a TVT mesh sling for bladder problems, and whilst researching what went wrong, discovered it was a global problem.

Kath became a regular guest of MPs – to seek acknowledgement that the operation is flawed and to have it suspended. A review was launched in 2018 by then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to investigate the uses of mesh implants, led by Baroness Cumberlege. The review saw NICE issue new guidelines in 2019 which said mesh could be used again following a suspension, once five other checks are put in place.

Owen Smith MP said: “I am deeply disappointed that the updated guidelines appear to disregard mesh-injured women’s experiences by stating that there is no long-term evidence of adverse effects.”

As of April 2019, Kath continues to campaign against the procedure and is seeking a 20-year review of every woman in the UK who has had a mesh implant.

The 2015 MAD winning campaign Puppy Farming by Sunday Life, with the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, aimed to abolish illegal puppy farming in Northern Ireland. Sunday Life launched an undercover investigation after being contacted by a number of devastated dog owners. 

As a result of the campaign, readers identified a number of other suspected puppy farms across Northern Ireland which became the subject of investigations by authorities. In 2018, the USPCA have since rescued nearly 90 dogs from illegal puppy farms in Northern Ireland. In May 2019, the Government announced they would introduce a ban of unethical puppy and kitten farms, which would come into effect in Spring 2020.

Images courtesy of NLA Media Access.