A reporter's life with Finola Fitzpatrick: Working on a new campaign

I really enjoyed meeting with John Shannon ahead of our Ending Loneliness  campaign launch.
I really enjoyed meeting with John Shannon ahead of our Ending Loneliness campaign launch.

My ambition to become a reporter has always been fuelled by my desire to use journalism as a platform to help others and make a difference.

I always try wherever possible to raise the profile of all the incredible work that goes on in our community and to meet the inspiring individuals and organisations who do so much to make it happen.

A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting with the Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP) to find out more about the support they provide for elderly and vulnerable people in the district. I was just eager to establish a connection with HELP and urge the team to stay in touch and let me know if there is anything I can be of assistance with - a message I would like to reach all of our charities and community organisations.

When I left the meeting and hopped on the bus to head back to office, I couldn’t stop thinking about everything I had just heard. I came away reflecting on what more can be done to prevent loneliness and social isolation among elderly people.

The following day I had a really exciting meeting with the Harrogate Advertiser team, and I was delighted that we were discussing campaign ideas for the newspaper. The meeting with HELP had affected me so much that I felt I just had to suggest a campaign raising awareness of loneliness.

Two months into my post at the Harrogate Advertiser, I am absolutely thrilled that my dream to use journalism to help others has come true. In this week's Harrogate Advertiser you may have seen that I am leading a new campaign that is designed to mobilise people to get out into the community and make a difference in some way. We hope that readers will really get behind us and work with us to end loneliness in our district.

I am really excited about this new challenge, and I cannot wait to see how the campaign develops over the coming weeks. When I was 15 years old I was elected to my local Youth Cabinet and Youth Parliament to represent the views of young people in Northumberland. During my time on these groups, I relished the opportunity to campaign around issues that really mattered to people. Now I am extremely happy to be in a position to work on a campaign again, in a completely different context: new surroundings; a different platform; new people; a new issue to tackle, and a completely new set of challenges.

There is a lot to think about, but one thing I do already know is that there is a strong sense of community spirit in our district that can have a significant and meaningful impact. This week I met with John Shannon, 100, who has been volunteering since the age of 17. His main message was that if everybody devoted just one or two hours of their time to helping others a week, the country would be revolutionised for older people. The Harrogate Advertiser’s looking forward to promoting John’s ethos.

I would love to hear from readers who would like to get involved with our loneliness campaign. Perhaps you are interested in volunteering to support an elderly person, or might already do so. Perhaps you have a suggestion for our campaign. You can email me at: finola.fitzpatrick@jpress.co.uk, or call: 01423 707505.