Berkshire newspaper, the Newbury Weekly News (NWN), has joined forces with its local authority and local charities to launch a community campaign to help manage the COVID-19 virus.
The ‘community support hub’ campaign will be run in conjunction with West Berkshire Council and local charities.
The aim of the hub is to try to keep people updated on the pandemic and let them know what they can do and where they can get help if they need it.
The hub has also been set up to ensure that the district’s elderly and most vulnerable residents have access to food, medication and anything else they need. A dedicated website and helpline have been established to help facilitate this service.
Participating organisations include the Newbury Soup Kitchen, West Berkshire Foodbank, Citizens Advice West Berkshire, the Community Furniture Project, Volunteer Centre West Berkshire, Healthwatch West Berkshire and the Greenham Trust.
The paper and Illiffe Media have also announced changes to their online policies in response to the outbreak, with the latter making its e-editions free of charge and dropping its paywall for articles about COVID-19.
The Weekly News and Iliffe Media will also launch a new app called IM News, which will allow smartphone or iPad users to access their titles free for a month.
The Weekly News, which was purchased by a joint venture involving the company’s chairman Edward Iliffe last year, is also launching a weekly podcast to keep readers informed, as well as launching a campaign aimed at helping the elderly and vulnerable within its patch.
The Weekly News currently charges 20p to read some premium stories on its Newbury Today website via the subscription-free Axate system, but this will not be implemented for articles relating to COVID-19.
Editor Andy Murrill urged people to make use of the community support hub.
He told HoldTheFrontPage (HTFP): “At this time of crisis, the NWN will be a calm and trusted voice, giving you the information you need to best cope with coronavirus. Our new digital services will give people free access to our journalism wherever they are.
“We also urge people to use the community support hub if they need assistance or if they are offering to become a volunteer. If we all work together we can get West Berkshire through this situation.”
HTFP also reported that Newsquest title, Glasgow-based daily, The Herald has lowered its paywall for coronavirus-related stories earlier this month.
In addition, the News in Portsmouth, which operates a paywall, announced on Friday it is offering readers free information online via a newsletter and Facebook.