The Evening Standard in partnership with the Independent has won the campaign of the year at the prestigious Society of Editor awards for its joint appeal to help feed Britons struggling to access food during the Covid crisis.
The award was given to the Food For London Now appeal – which raised over £10m to feed the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable people, supplying more than 20 million meals during the pandemic.
It beat the Daily Mail’s Mailforce campaign to provide PPE for frontline Covid workers, which was named as runner up.
Celebrating the success, Evening Standard and Independent proprietor Evgeny Lebedev said: “When Covid struck, the Evening Standard and the Independent didn’t hesitate for a moment. We raised over £10m to feed millions of people in need. The highest praise should go to the journalists and Felix Project volunteers who worked tirelessly on this campaign.”
Hailing our rapid response to the food poverty crisis, the judges made up of editors from throughout the media, said: “Thanks to this campaign, thousands of struggling families have received the help they need. To have smashed a goal of £10m is truly amazing.”
They added: “Both titles came up with an effective project to address a shocking problem at a local and national scale.”
The Standard’s Excluded campaign was also runners up in the ceremony’s Cudlipp Award, one of the most esteemed awards in British journalism. Campaigns Editor David Cohen’s investigation was into the permanent exclusion of disruptive pupils from schools and revealed that the true rate was double what the government announced.
This sparked a vigorous Standard campaign challenging the Department for Education’s methods of dealing with persistently disruptive young people.
The judges said: “While reporting how pupil referral units are poor value for money and have become recruiting centres for gangs, the campaign secured £1.2 million funding for a unique pilot programme in London and offered eight secondary schools grants of £150,000 over three years – a great step forward for society.”
The Food For London Now appeal saw the Evening Standard and the Independent partner with The Felix Project, a charity redistributing surplus food collected from supermarkets and restaurants to those in dire need of help.
The Felix Project was able to quadruple its food deliveries – ensuring thousands of low-income families, the elderly and shielding, as well as homeless people, refugee and women in domestic abuse shelters didn’t have to worry where their next meal was coming from during the pandemic.
Felix Project founder Justin Byam-Shaw hailed the campaign’s recognition. “This was the most sensationally effective media campaign and a brilliant example of how a newspaper can quickly make a material difference to its community,” he said.
“From its start in March, it enabled the Felix Project to quintuple the amount of food we were rescuing and redistributing. By the autumn we were redistributing enough food every day to provide fresh meals for 125k Londoners, whose lives had been upended by the pandemic and its aftermath.”
This was made possible by flood of new volunteer drivers and depot workers, who read about the appeal in the Evening Standard and the Independent and the support of donors including Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Ocado, among many others, who responded to the appeal’s call for surplus food and financial support.
Donations poured in from readers, businesses and philanthropists, and celebrities such as Olivia Colman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jack Whitehall, Spurs footballer Moussa Sissoko and rapper KSI backed the campaign by volunteering with our food deliver teams.
Damien Hirst and Sir Peter Blake made new art works that were sold on behalf of the campaign, while Sir Antony Gormley, Ai Weiwei, Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor and Yinka Shonibare donated or auctioned pieces.
The campaign was led by the media group’s Executive Editor Oliver Poole and Campaigns Editor Cohen and involved a team of reporters, photographers, videographers and designers from across both titles. Reporters involved included Adam Forrest and Vincent Wood from the Independent and Lizzie Edmounds and Abbianca Makoni from the Evening Standard as well as Arjun Neil Alim and Francesco Loy Bell.
“It is wonderful all the hard work has been recognised,” Poole said. “Food For London Now was a campaign on a scale beyond anything we have done before and saw the two titles unite to do what they could to help people at one of the toughest times in our country’s recent history. Everyone is so proud of what we achieved and it is lovely to have that recognised today.”
The campaign has enabled as its lasting legacy the creation of a new social kitchen in London that will cook and distribute 1.5 million meals a year to thousands of hungry schoolchildren and vulnerable families. It is scheduled to open at the end of this month.