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Innovative public sector partnership newspaper wins national praise

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve endeavoured to keep Devon’s residents informed of the latest local and national news, information, advice and guidance via our website, social media channels and email updates.

We also teamed up with NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group and the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office to produce two editions of the Devon Together newspaper.

Over 600,000 copies were printed to provided essential information to local people who might not access their news or information digitally, particularly in rural or isolated communities where internet connection is poor.

Content included a map of vaccination and testing centres, a guide to vaccination services, answers to questions about vaccination, advice on staying within lockdown rules and avoiding scams, details on how to join the health and care workforce in Devon, volunteering and useful contact information for local services.

The innovative partnership newspaper was recently awarded Best Publication at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ Pride Awards for the South of England.

Devon County Council leader John Hart said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has had, and is still having, a major impact on everyone’s lives, with reverberations felt across not only our health, but our jobs, our lifestyles, and society.

“One of the positive things to come from it is the much closer relationships that Devon councils, the NHS in Devon, the Police, and the voluntary sector have, pulling together as one Team Devon in response to the many challenges. And that’s something that we are all committed to continuing.

“The Devon Together newspaper is an excellent example of that collaboration, working together to reach people who did not necessarily have access to the latest online news and information about the pandemic.

“I am delighted that it has achieved national recognition, and pleased more so of the positive feedback I have heard from local residents.”

Simon Tapley, deputy chief executive of Devon CCG, said:

“We wanted to provide one voice for the public sector, with clear and unified messages. We know not everyone in Devon has easy access to the internet and we needed a way of reaching them with reliable and important information. The way all three local organisations worked together, despite facing heavy pressures from the pandemic, was exemplary.”

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said:

“In the height of the pandemic our communities were not only being threatened with coronavirus but a rise in sophisticated cyber crimes and a rise in demand for support for victims of crime like domestic abuse.

“Devon Together enabled us to get essential and reassuring information to people about the services available to them and how to access those services in a pandemic.

“Not everyone in Devon is online or familiar with how to use social media, so a print solution helped ensure we got those vital messages out widely.

“Collaborative projects often take considerable time to develop. The strength of this work was that it was taken from concept to doorstep in a few weeks.”

The judges said:

“Joining up different parts of public services to present a coherent voice to communities across Devon, all partners were determined not to leave behind those who are social-media excluded and physically isolated. Worthy Gold winners.”