Two regional dailies and their sister weeklies are to offer free advertising for independent businesses next week in a bid to help them during the coronavirus outbreak.
Newsquest Cumbria has announced it will run the initiative in the Carlisle News & Star and South Cumbria daily The Mail, as well as weekly titles the Cumberland News, Westmorland Gazette, Whitehaven News, Workington Times & Star and the Hexham Courant.
As part of the ‘Backing independent and family businesses’ campaign all independently-owned businesses in Cumbria will be eligible for a free standard sized advert next week.
The campaign will be officially launched in next week’s papers with continuous coverage in print and online.
Vanessa Sims, regional group editor, said: “In unprecedented times such as these we must all do our best to support our independent businesses. Shopping local has never been so important.
“It is no secret our local traders are facing a difficult time and as a champion of our communities, Newsquest Cumbria wants to help in any way it can.
“In all of our titles we will be featuring the efforts of local businesses which have been going the extra mile to support their customers.
“If you have any examples of a business going above and beyond please get in touch.”
Sales director Lee Taylor-Craddock has instructed his team to actively “reach out” to businesses informing them of the offer.
He said: “As this crisis develops the local communities, we serve will rely on us to keep them informed.
“We have already seen a significant increase in traffic to all our news sites over the last week in response to what is going on.
“We will ensure amongst this important communication that we are really banging the drum for independent and family owned businesses from all sectors including retail, hospitality and leisure and encouraging our loyal readership to show their support by shopping local.”
The campaign has been backed by South Lakes MP Tim Farron, former leader of the Liberal Democrats.
He said: “Coronavirus is a triple threat: health, economic and a challenge to the community as to whether we will rise to it and all the signs are we will.
“This campaign is a way of promoting small and independent businesses and to help one another.
“We do not want to break the rules of self-isolation, but we need to support the economy to keep it going.”