Colin Grainger

Community Links

The “New’am’ Recorder” has always been a family newspaper. Despite staff changes over 40 years, that family feeling always remained.

We challenged those in power, fought against injustice and won awards for our work. But we have always tried to give people a laugh as well.

I made a point over the years of trying the accentuate the positive of our young people in Newham, particularly in the last 20 years. There have been many talented generations of young people in Newham. We have another right now. They are our future.

Community LinksBut I would have to say the thing I am most proud of is my association and the paper’s association with Community Links, the most wonderful organisation it has been my honour to know.

The people make Links and they are so special. We worked together over the years on many good campaigns. Their philosophy is helping people to help themselves and with Kevin Jenkins and David Robinson at the helm they have achieved so much.

The most high profile thing has been the 35 years of our Christmas Toy Appeal. It means so much to so many young people and their families.

When I launched it all those years ago, we had a target of 500 toys, which we never thought we would reach. Last year, our target was 13,000 and it is really is testimony to the marvellous community spirit in our borough that we achieved that target.

I launched the 2012 appeal in my last few weeks before I was made redundant from the paper when it merged with another title last November. And I am so proud we reached the target again.

In financial terms, we have raised the equivalent of more than £2 million worth of toys in all those years, but it is the joy on the faces of needy children that makes it so worthwhile. It is the community working together, the pensioner donating her pension, the paper boy collecting his wages. Raffles or collections in a business, all the drop off points, to the firms who may give £1,000 worth of toys. And even the Royal household has donated to the appeal. It’s what being a true community newspaper is all about.

And it is the philosophy of Links, to help people to help themselves that is so special.

They are an innovative charity, running a wide range of community projects for over 16,000 people every year. They have over 30 years of experience working with local people to support children, young people, adults and families. Through their national work, they share lessons with government and community groups across the country to achieve social change.

The slogan for the London 2012 Olympic Games – Inspire a Generation – mirrors Links’ own belief that the Olympics has provided our area of east London with a unique opportunity to tackle decades of exclusion to transform the communities we support and to secure a positive impact.

I know Links would be delighted to hear from anyone who could assist with their support to help achieve the living legacy campaign.

I was honoured during the Toy Appeal campaign in December to be awarded the Freedom of Community Links for the small part I have played over the last 30 years.

We have worked together on numerous other community projects which I was delighted to back and support both individually and as the Editor of the Newham Recorder.

I look forward to many more years of working together to help the community.

The victors from this year's Community Links Christmas Toy Appeal quiz night

The victors from this year’s Community Links Christmas Toy Appeal quiz night

Pictures@ Colin Grainger

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This article was written on 06 Feb 2013, and is filed under Charity/Third sector, Colin Grainger, Community Links, Newham, Newham Recorder, Newspapers.

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