The Sports Journalists’ Association has chosen the Journalists’ Charity as its nominated good cause for 2015-2016.
The SJA will conduct fund-raising activities for the Journalists’ Charity at its various events, including British Sports Awards on December 17, and at the British Sports Journalism Awards next March.
“When Tom Clarke explained the need for substantial funding for the Journalists’ Charity, I’m delighted to say the SJA Committee agreed unanimously that we must support it as our nominated charity for the coming year,” David Walker, the SJA chairman, said.
“If we can’t support such a critical cause for journalists, who will?”
The Journalists’ Charity – which had its 150th anniversary last year – is the only charity run by journalists (present and past) for journalists and their dependents in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
It has special resonance with the SJA: Terry O’Connor, a founder member of what was then the Sports Writers’ Association and a former chairman, is a resident at one of the JC’s three homes at Dorking in Surrey. Alan Hughes and Steve Richards, both distinguished sports journalists, spent their closing years in one of the JC homes, and just a few weeks ago the charity approved ongoing grants to a sports journalist in his 40s and to the widow of a sportswriter.
“The SJA and the Journalists’ Charity are a natural fit,” said Tom Clarke, a member of both organisations.
“The JC is supported by many of the media groups up and down the UK but, with journalists not being perceived as the most deserving of causes among the public at large, it does not attract much in the way of help from outside our industry or, sad to say, among journalists themselves. There are more than 100,000 working journalists in the UK, yet fewer than 4,000 currently support their charity.
“That is why this link with an important and influential organisation like the SJA is so important.”
Clarke has been a member of the Journalists’ Charity council since October.
“I was astonished then – and I still am – at the scale of hardship of many in our business and of the charity’s willingness to help.”
The JC has about 50 former journalists and dependents in the Dorking houses: 24 at Ribblesdale (sheltered housing), five at Harmsworth House (“half-way house”) and 17 at Pickering House (residential care).
The charity paid out nearly £423,000 in grants to 207 people during 2014. The youngest recipient was 28 and the oldest was 96. They were widows, widowers, men and women with terminal illnesses or in urgent need of precious short-term support.
The JC had to take £600,000 out of reserves last year and similar figures in the preceding three years. It has resolved to stop raiding the reserves – they would last only around six years if it did. Every time it reduces the reserves, it decreases the income which pays for the grants. So it needs financial help, particularly in the transitional period over the next two years.
Despite these concerns, the JC wants to get out the message that it is there to help journalists and their dependents in need of comfort in their own homes or in the accommodation at Dorking.
- To find out more about the Journalists’ Charity and how you can donate on a one-off or regular basis, go to www.journalistscharity.org.uk
- The SJA is the largest member organisation of sports media professionals in the world. Join us: Click here for more details
UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Tue July 14: Young sports journalists social event
Mon Sep 14: SJA Autumn Golf Day, Muswell Hill Golf Club
Thu Dec 17: 2015 SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by The National Lottery