Hello. This is Darryl. I publish 853. I’ve a small favour to ask you.
You’ve probably noticed a few changes to this website over the past few weeks. It’s been given a redesign and a slightly-altered web address (853london.com). I’ve also added Twitter and Facebook pages.
There’s going to be a very slight change in emphasis over the next few months – I’d like to make the site a little newsier, broadening its scope a bit, and trying to do a little more to help you become better-informed about your area. Some more investigations, more looking behind simplistic headlines, more of the kind of thing the legacy local press gave up doing a long time ago, and won’t ever be able to do if it wants to get advertising from Greenwich Council.
But I can’t do this on my own. You can probably guess what’s coming next…
853 has been run without funding for some years now, written in spare time between other commitments. It’s evolved into something I’m very proud of, and a lot of people have said very nice words about it.
Now I need your help to make sure I can keep investigating issues that affect Greenwich borough and beyond. Exclusive stories such as revealing the anti-gay sermons at a council-backed church take time and effort – checking and double-checking to make sure it’s true and not over-the-top. Even run-of-the-mill ones will take a couple of hours to produce – sourcing photos, double-checking documents.
There are also direct financial costs, such as this site’s domain names and things like Land Registry searches.
In short, I would be hugely grateful if you would consider supporting 853 with a monthly donation.
The more money readers can give, the more time I can spend studying documents and issues, and the more time I can spend writing about them. It’ll also enable me to keep my own training up to speed.
How it’ll work – please sign up to Patreon
I’m using the Patreon system for this, which will enable me to keep in touch with those who back the site and to manage donations. Those who support the site with half an hour of London Living Wage (£4.90) each month will get a small reward in the form of a monthly newsletter, discussing the issues raised and highlighting good stories others have done.
Bigger donors can also sponsor the site directly – if you’ve a local business, I can give you a few hundred pairs of eyeballs each day.
Patreon charges in US dollars, and VAT is added when you check out, so please bear that in mind if you’re kind enough to become a patron of the site. (Using PayPal may be the simplest and best value way for you.) The only person who’ll see your name is me – and I’m very good at keeping secrets – but you can use an alias if you prefer. Please sign up at patreon.com/853.
What you can expect for your money
The more money I can raise – the more I can do. If everybody who is signed up to the email version of the site donates $5 (£3) per month, then this becomes a full-time job and starts to pay for itself. More than that, I could even start paying other people. Imagine that!
I’d be amazed to raise that much. But being able to properly devote a day per week to the site will mean I can do more research, talk to more people and write better stories.
There’s a common misconception that this and other sites like it are produced by losers with an axe to grind. While this site’s coverage of local issues was born out of horror of watching a resident’s treatment in a council meeting, and gathered pace through helping to reveal bullying in the town hall, telling a story is always much more interesting than having a moan. And there’s loads of stories not being told here.
More time means I can run some lighter items as well as open the site up to other contributors – and perhaps broaden its geographical reach too.
Of course, if you think the site becomes rubbish or I’m not doing enough, you can always cancel your donation by logging back into Patreon. And if my personal circumstances change, I’ll let you know.
It’s a bit nerve-wracking. But I’m up for the challenge. I hope you are too.
More money = more variety
As an incentive, I’m delighted to announce that I have a couple of guest columnists ready to join 853. If we can raise £200/month, an anonymous council insider, WELLINGTON, will shed new light on the inner workings of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
If we raise a little bit more, then I’m proud to be able to bring back MERCURY MAN – or as he’s now known in semi-retirement, MERCURIAL MAN. Once a fixture of south-east London’s leading local paper, Mercurial Man will bring his own take on life and events across the area.
I should point out that this won’t directly pay for work on The Charlton Champion. However, there’s a natural crossover between the two sites so there might be some benefits felt there too. If the Patreon system works for 853, I’ll look to launch something to fund SE7’s community site too.
You can also support 853 by signing up to its Twitter feed and Facebook page, and sharing its stories with your friends and neighbours.
So, if you like what I do, please do your bit to help local journalism in Greenwich and SE London. Sign up at patreon.com/853 and suggest your friends and neighbours do the same. Thank you.