John says professional, reliable local journalism matters more than ever…

During the pandemic, the Weston Mercury has kept readers up to date with the latest updates on Covid-19 and helped people access vital support from networks of volunteers set up across the district.

We published contact details of support networks in towns and villages which were set up to help people access food, medicine and mental health support during the pandemic.

Our stories helped readers to get in touch with these groups and led to more volunteers signing up to help.

We ran stories on kind-hearted volunteers and businesses who helped to deliver hot meals to vulnerable people and hardworking NHS staff, and schools and individuals who made personal protective equipment for care homes and NHS workers.

The Times has been supporting North Somerset businesses by encouraging people to shop locally, and publicising the plight of the care sector which is in desperate need of more support, and the entertainment and leisure sector which urgently needs more funding.

North Somerset Council’s deputy leader Councillor Mike Bell said: “The course of the Covid-19 pandemic has further emphasised the role of journalists and local newspapers in getting essential public health messages out, highlighting the amazing work of our volunteers and business community and shining the spotlight on the health and care workers who have done so much to keep us safe and healthy. Local newspapers and the journalists who write for them are critical to the life of any strong and successful community. Whether campaigning for change, scrutinising decisions or reporting on local events, journalists are integral to a thriving democracy, local debate, and community awareness.

“The Journalism Matters campaign is an important reminder to us all to support journalists and our media, wherever they are, to help them continue their important work now and in the future.

Weston MP John Penrose added: “Genuinely professional, reliable local journalism matters more than ever in a world where fake news and rumours can spread like wildfire, going viral and international in hours.

“We all need to know whether we can trust what we’re reading online or on a page, or not. And in a pandemic, a reliable local paper that’s got a finger on the pulse of our local community, so we can all see where to find local help and support for our neighbours quickly and easily, is more important and valuable than ever.”