Bringing together communities, sharing great news, inspirational stories, achievements and, ultimately, promoting all things fab and local
About the project
In October 2013 I, along with three other people, launched Totally Locally Scarborough and my life changed. The popularity and success of the campaigns, and the concept as a whole, opened my eyes to how amazing communities can be if we all work together.
I have been fortunate to meet many remarkable people who are doing fantastic things in, and for, the town and I realised that very often these people and groups do not get as much media exposure they deserve. Totally Locally was a breath of fresh air for the town and inspired me to not only promote local independent traders but become one.
In October 2014 I began my dream to develop a much needed community based weekly newspaper for Scarborough, one born from my passion to bring together communities, share great news, positive and inspirational stories, achievements and, ultimately, promote all the great things that happen locally but don't always receive the media support that they deserve. I have used my own funds in order to kick start my dream and pilot the paper for six months. The paper is priced at 50p in order to make it affordable to all members of our community. The paper is also distributed to local community groups and to community support organisations for free to ensure the wider community have access to it.
Since the first edition on December 15 2014 The Scarborough Comet has grown in popularity and is now stocked regularly in 35 stores and outlets including libraries, cafes and community centres across Scarborough. The paper is popular with visitors and perhaps more importantly has rapidly developed a strong, appreciative, loyal and growing local following.
Help make the Scarborough Comet a permanent newspaper for our community.
The Scarborough Comet now needs to grow and to become a permanent, impartial news and community focused part of the media landscape of our town and neighbouring areas. In order to achieve this I am asking the public for their help and support to maintain the paper moving forward especially in the paper's infancy and important first trading year, giving me the opportunity to develop and ensure its long term sustainability. My ultimate goal is to start a membership scheme where subscribers would be part of the paper. Allowing more local people to contribute and thus allowing more local voices to be heard.
I have asked our readers, community groups and local businesses to explain why Scarborough needs The Comet to suceed.
What our readers and supporters say about The Comet:
Chris Sands, Founder of Totally Locally:
"Scarborough has been one of the towns that have really taken the Totally Locally ethos and made it their own. It's amazing what a small bunch of people can do, and the Scarborough bunch, led by Jo & Una has proved that in bucket loads. When we were told of the launch of The Scarborough Comet, I was so excited. Then we got to see the first copy I was blown away. This is really great stuff, well designed, and well written. Any town should be proud of a paper like The Comet, and should do everything in its collective power to make it work. It has inspired a group of us to look at doing the same in the town I live (Sowerby Bridge). I have shared the story of the paper in many Totally locally towns (including Australia) and everyone is envious.
It is so important for a community to have a supportive and impartial voice that gives space to local people, issues and businesses. You’ve got it in The Scarborough Comet - make sure it stays and becomes an even bigger voice for the Scarborough Community."
David Malone, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Scarborough and Whitby;
“I have lived in Scarborough for 12 years now and in my opinion Scarborough needs The Scarborough Comet to succeed.
The Comet has, for my money, helped breathe life back in to the election at a time when people were feeling cynical and detached. Jo Swift has chaired umpteen hustings and I really believe that if the Comet was not around, people would have taken a lot less interest in the election. I have no idea what Jo's personal politics are and I don't want to know. I do want her paper to flourish. I'm buying it and I hope others will consider buying it too. It's a local business, a local initiative and in my mind a local asset we all benefit from”
“artists like the array of content of The Scarborough Comet. The team is accessible and enthusiastic, giving a voice to the diverse cultural groups in the town; reaching a larger audience, which is good for everyone”.
Labour party parliamentary candidate Ian McInnes:
“ The team at the Scarborough Comet work tirelessly, week in, week out to produce the people of Scarborough with a fantastic paper. They are truly a part of the community and have already help run some large campaigns. I will always find ways to support them and hope that others do too”.
An elderly resident at risk of isolation age 93
“I used to go into town and I'd know everybody. Now I go out and don't know anyone, and no one remembers what Scarborough was like when I was young. Reading this (the Living Memories Page of the Scarborough Comet) on a Tuesday absolutely makes my day. It really does. It takes me back”.
Cherry Trees Holiday Flats team:
“We were waiting for a media like yours.The community is growing stronger and bigger and more people are joining efforts to make Scarborough an awesome place to work, live and play.You are empowering and making the link between all these people, and it is a delight to read all local news.
We are very proud to put the latest copy in our holiday flats for visitors to see how amazing our town is.Keep the good work, keep listening to the community!”
Michael Beckett, Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Candidate for Scarborough and Whitby:
"The Scarborough Comet brings a vibrancy and dynamism to reporting in Scarborough which challenges established media and creates new opportunities something to be welcomed!"
Leslie Crabtree, local campaigner and resident:
“The residents of Danes Dyke have been involved in protests to try and get a building development at the end of their street blocked. The support we had from the Comet was great highlighting our concerns. The articles they wrote were fair and balanced but they did give our little community a public voice which we would otherwise not have had, once again I would like to say thank you to Jo and Steven for listening to us and publishing what we had to say"
“The Danse Society are delighted to support The Scarborough Comet because they are genuinely supporting us and the local community. Never before we have seen such keen dedication to promote, inform, support and celebrate Scarborough in all its aspects.
As a local band known internationally, we are delighted to have witnessed the birth and to enjoy the continuity of its excellent work”.
Ros Jones, Action Coach and contributor:
"Since the launch of The Comet Jo and her team have consistently delivered a great quality newspaper for the people and the businesses of Scarborough and the local area. There is a great range of news stories, articles and advertisements about local people, groups, events and businesses-something for everyone.
It really makes an absorbing read and I find myself reading every word rather than just skimming through as I do with all other newspapers. What sets The Comet apart for me is its positive tone. It is uplifting and makes me feel proud to live and work here. This runs through every page celebrating our fabulous town and extraordinary and inspirational talent and energy to be found. Well done for creating The Comet Jo!"
Mel Bonney- Kane CEO CaVCA:
“The Scarborough Comet is a fantastic statement of positivity and commitment to the community - seeing good news in the printed press is becoming a rarity so the Comet stands above the rest. The team's tireless drive to instil pride in the town coupled with high quality, credible reporting and design should be celebrated. We need the Comet”.
Dean and Amy Devenport, Words for Words campaigners:
“A while ago we began a 'first of its kind project ' to bring the world of Autism to the forefront by consecutively blogging everyday for an entire year about the highs and lows of our sons journey living with Autism.
“In order to accomplish this we needed to push what we were doing into the public eye. We were passed on Jo owner of The Scarborough Comet and she was more than happy to help us in our project. As time progressed we have gotten to know Jo and her team as her paper now does regular updates on our journey and what an absolute pleasure it is.
“Her assistance has not just stopped at her media influence but has helped numerous times in a personal capacity and we truly would not be in the position we are now without her help. We would be happy to fully support Jo in any endeavour she may venture just as she has been a constant support to us. She is a true reflection of community spirit and we couldn't be more grateful”
Julie Wardman, minister and contributor:
“As you know, I am ministering at Albemarle Baptist Church just now. The people there are fabulous - although not all are spring chickens any more. We actually have two members over 100. When I visited one of them yesterday I asked her if she had been following my ‘Thought of the Day’ column and if she had any comments for me. She had. At 102 I guess you can say anything you like!
“This lady told me that she and her friends in the nursing home look forward to getting The Comet every week because, "It feels like you're talking to your neighbour over the garden fence". They appreciate being kept in touch with local news that is actually interesting and relevant to people living locally.
“After she had waxed lyrical about The Comet for 10 minutes she added, "Your thought for the day bit is nice". Apparently, I should stop my infernal habit of starting sentences with conjunctions though! It looks like I'm the only one subject to criticism here.
The Comet guys are doing a brilliant job, their work is appreciated and long may it continue”.
Rich Oldale local businessman
“I believe that local media has to look to alternative business models to survive in the changing world of local news reporting with the twin pressures of commercial decline and technological challenge.
"The Comet has already demonstrated its community credentials by focussing on a range of positive local issues and causes, whilst not afraid to ask difficult questions of those that represent us. It appears to be ideally primed to investigate the opportunities presented by the co-operative model. This may develop the “citizen journalism”, where local residents and readers are actively encouraged to submit articles and contribute to the direction that the newspaper takes.
"The Comet would continue to build on the sound ethical base, common to all who write and contribute to its success and development. There is already a real “connection” with its readers, which subsequently gives the Scarborough public a stronger voice to shape and celebrate the beautiful town in which we live”.
What I am asking/ How I will spend the funding?
£3,000.00 will allow the time to secure long term sustainability through hiring an apprentice to work on our website and social media and to ensure we have the right marketing tools to be able to distribute the paper further afield. Also a member of staff to oversee a membership scheme where the community can become involved more in the paper to realise the dream of creating a cooperative in the future. My long term goal would be to have a membership led, free newspaper.
I have a small loyal team of staff, a strong team, who are proud of the paper's achievements and who are determined to help the paper become a permanent part of the community of Scarborough. Apart from our photographer none of the staff had experience of working or running a paper before, including myself, we have had to learn on the job and it is perhaps because of this rather than inspite of this that the paper has developed such a unique identity and therefore strong following.
What the team say:
“I just think the fact that you have given me and Sophia the opportunity to do a creative job that we would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise, and through learning on the job we have been able to prove that you were right to give us that chance. Thanks, Jo Swift”