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Local Newspaper Week: Looking back on 'fantastic' campaigns with Hornchurch's First Step

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 May 2017

First Step celebrating the culmination of the Recorder's Fundraise on the First campaign, which raised more than £50,000 in partnership with the charity. Picture: Ken Mears

First Step celebrating the culmination of the Recorder's Fundraise on the First campaign, which raised more than £50,000 in partnership with the charity. Picture: Ken Mears

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In celebration of Local Newspaper Week, which runs until Sunday, four community figures have shared their thoughts on how the Recorder's work has made a difference.

Mark Halls, chief executive of children's charity First Step. Picture: Paul BennettMark Halls, chief executive of children's charity First Step. Picture: Paul Bennett

Mark Halls, chief executive at Hornchurch’s First Step, talks about the two campaigns the Recorder has run with the charity, including 2015’s Fundraise on the First.

It was a hugely successful year, the Fundraise on the First campaign. In some ways it’s quite hard to directly quantify the effect because we were working very much in partnership, but I’m convinced of the value of it.

On our golf day in 2016, a year later, we had a number of new teams that came along, and it was clear they were people we hadn’t historically been talking to, and I’m absolutely convinced it was a follow-on from the campaign.

I think the reason for what we achieved [raising more than £50,000] is because of the absolute commitment of the Recorder team, they went above and beyond what you could reasonably expect from being charity of the year. It was a mutually-supportive campaign and just fantastic.

Editorial staff from the Recorder team wearing '90s dress pose on the front steps of the office as part of the Recorder's Fundraise on the First campaign with First Step. Picture: Vickie FloresEditorial staff from the Recorder team wearing '90s dress pose on the front steps of the office as part of the Recorder's Fundraise on the First campaign with First Step. Picture: Vickie Flores

When we look back to 2004 [year of a previous Recorder campaign] disability, particularly the needs of disabled children, was centre stage, lots of legislation had come into play which meant national and local government were stepping up. There was money in abundance for services, to the point we found it hard to spend it how they [council] wanted. We were in Dunningford School and needed a much bigger facility.

The fundraising programme raised £1.2 million, and in 2008 we moved into our fantastic facility in Tangmere Crescent.

Since then, there has progressively been a reduction in funding, so the need is as great, if not greater than, it was back then.

We have a rich history of working with the Recorder, and I believe we will continue this in the future as we face the challenges of reduced funding.

For more on the charity, visit firststep.org.uk. Tomorrow, hear from Mike Palfreman, chief executive of Haven House Children’s Hospice.

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