Overview of this campaign
The Evening Standard launched one its most challenging campaigns to date in 2015. ‘The Estate We’re In’, launched last September, broke new ground, seeking as it did to turn around a troubled London estate following an investigation into its problems.
Focussing initially on the Angell Town Estate in Brixton, South London, the Standard ran a week-long series of articles which exposed the reality of life for residents there, examining the dysfunctional cycle into which Angell Town, a place beset by violent gang crime, has been drawn. The reports were written by chief features writer, David Cohen, who spent a week actually living with Angell Town families. His immersion in the estate took readers deep into a world which was on the doorstep for many but which most genuinely knew little about – our published pieces shone a light on a way of thinking, a vernacular, a sense of community.
In the days that followed, the Standard highlighted possible ways in which Angell Town’s troubled situation might be addressed. It seemed clear that many of the potential solutions to the problems on the estate lay with residents – and that answers neither should, nor could, be imposed by outsiders. With that in mind, and in partnership with experts in community development and rejuvenation, we sought to identify local civic projects which, with the right support and funding, could make a real difference. Having identified a number of appropriate projects, we launched a campaign to support them.
Since the Standard went free in 2009, raising its circulation from around 150,000 to 600,000 - and subsequently to 900,000 - it has become more important than ever that it should not only explore every aspect of London's life and people, but that it should also seek to make a difference. Campaigns which change the lives of the capital’s residents are key to maintaining and strengthening the Standard's position as London’s paper: The Estate We’re In is emblematic of the Standard’s relationship with the city it serves.
Results for this campaign
The response to our investigation was extraordinary – social media came alive with readers’ positive feedback. Financial backing was secured from Citi bank and Lambeth Council as well as from the Dispossessed Fund (created as part of the Standard’s first campaign under its current owners) for a total of £250,000, which meant grants could be made almost immediately to some the community projects we had identified. Just under £19,000 enabled the installation of an Astroturf sports space; £13,000 helped an innovative scheme provide business start-up training; £5,000 was enough to fund a weekly market on the estate.
Inspired by the success of the Angell Town model, we decided to expand the project, rolling it out to estates across London. We secured £1.5 million backing from private sector corporations as well as from the Government. Charities and community groups operating on estates for the benefit of residents were able to apply in an open funding round for grants of between £2,000 and £20,000. Overall, we will benefit between 90 and 100 discrete projects on London estates as a result our project.
For making a genuine difference to the lives of Londoners, the Standard has already been honoured with a London First award. The Estate We’re In project also won the backing and plaudits of the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister David Cameron, who said: “This bold initiative has the potential to transform lives by offering local people new opportunities to turn their lives around.”
The response of our audience was superb too and one generous reader remarkably rang in to donate £50,000 on the basis of what he had seen in the Standard. There can be no greater testament to the power of a newspaper campaign than that.