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Exposing Britain’s Social Evils

Alison Holt

Alison has a long track record of reporting on the realities of life for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, using her detailed knowledge of social care to expose a system that is under pressure. In Undercover Elderly Care: Behind Closed Doors, a Panorama special broadcast in BBC1 prime time, Alison worked with producer Joe Plomin, undercover reporter Alex Lee and assistant producer Ceri Isfryn to put together a powerful programme showing the human cost of poor care. The programme led to a parliamentary debate, widespread national media coverage and the sacking of seven staff at an Essex care home. Social care experts say the programme helped shape the Care Quality Commission’s new inspection regime and describe it as ground-breaking for the way in which it charts the impact on individuals of day to day poor care. This is the third Panorama film on care that Alison has made with producer Joe Plomin in the past three years. The Hospital that Stopped Caring (October 2012) looked at the system failures that allowed abuse at Winterbourne View Hospital for people with learning disabilities and autism to go unchecked. Elderly Care: Condition Critical (June 2013) looked at increases in deaths in homes where poor care was suspected. All three of these films got extremely high audience appreciation ratings. In addition to reporting on what Behind Closed Doors uncovered for all main BBC radio and television news outlets, Alison continued to follow the different strands of the story for the BBC’s flagship TV news programmes at Six and Ten. Three care workers have since been arrested and charged at the Essex home and at another home, Orchid View, a serious case review spelt out the failings that had led to the deaths of some elderly residents. In the last year, Alison has also reported on the pressures faced by home care staff and the failure to move people with learning disabilities closer home.  The stories included in this entry are just a selection of a wide range of stories Alison has done on the care of the elderly and vulnerable in the last year, among them reports on the impact of loneliness and worries over social care funding. It shows a continuing determination to ensure the voices of some of the most marginalised in society are heard.



  • Diary of a home care worker – BBC Radio 4, “PM”, 12/1/2014
  • Essex care home sackings – BBC Radio 4, six o’clock news, 4/30/2014

Aditya Chakrabortty


Last year marked the point at which London’s housing crisis went from dinner-party grumble to national front-page news. Luxury flats were snapped up for millions by the super-rich, while entire communities faced the prospect of being shunted out of their homes. This was a story that Aditya Chakrabortty made his own, both reporting from the frontline of London’s housing crisis and analysing its driving forces. His columns have often helped shape the wider debate: the enclosed piece on the Focus E15 Mothers sparked a storm of interest in Britain and around the world; while the article on New Era provoked widespread outrage, forcing the withdrawal just two days later of a party of investors. In his investigative reporting, Aditya brought out the harsh realities of ‘regeneration’ in a landmark piece of long reporting that took up most of a G2 supplement. He also went behind the scenes of a local council overwhelmed by its housing shortage and explored the radical measures it is making to improve things. This submission features polemics, long investigations, videos and data maps. Although Aditya drove each story, they were produced in collaboration with Sophie Robinson-Tillett, Phil Maynard, Guy Grandjean, George Arnett. Together, we believe they make a compelling candidate for the inaugural Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils.


Journalistic Writing

The true cost of gentrification – 19/05/2014, The Guardian G2 Millionaire Tory MP and the tenants facing homelessness – 11/11/2014, The Guardian Yacht parties in Cannes – 14/10/2014, The Guardian Enfield Housing – 02/09/2014, The Guardian G2 For real politics, look to an empty London housing estate – 23/09/2014, The Guardian Nightmare of renting started in Westminster – 26/08/2014, The Guardian  


The true cost of gentrification – 18/05/2014, The Guardian Enfield Housing01/09/2014, The Guardian

Michael Buchanan


This is a joint submission from myself and Andy McNicoll a reporter from Community Care.

In a unique collaboration between BBC News and the online journal Community Care, we have exposed the failings in England’s mental health system and the damage it is causing patients.  Combining Freedom of Information requests, the personal testimony of patients and the insights of senior frontline professionals, our investigations have shown that teenage mental health patients are having to travel huge distances to get care or being treated wholly inadequately on adult wards, that adult patients are having to travel hundreds of miles, sometimes in the middle of night, to get a psychiatric bed and that the pressure on beds is so great that several people have died having been told that no beds were available to treat them. We have worked jointly on all the stories and our work has set the agenda in the public’s understanding of the problems within the mental health system and has led to the government vowing to improve the system and invest new money in psychiatric services. Due to the unique nature of our collaboration, we have been able to get our stories on BBC radio, TV and online and to reach the professionals who live these pressures on a daily basis, people who trust and respect the work of Community Care. Our submission includes 3 of the written stories we jointly worked on as well as a radio version of the teenage mental health story and a TV version of the suicides story.  

Journalistic Writing

Bed shortage sees mentally unwell children sent hundreds of miles for care – 2/20/2014, Community Care Rise in mental health patients sent out of area  – 5/6/2014, Community Care Deaths linked to mental health beds crisis as cuts leave little slack in system – 11/28/2014, Community Care  


Suicides – 11/28/2014, BBC1  


Teenage Mental Health – 2/20/2014, BBC Radio 4 / Today Programme Out of Area Placements – 5/6/2014, BBC Radio 4 / Today Programme

Lucy Bannerman


Lucy Bannerman is a journalist for The Times. She works as a reporter for Home News, as well as writing for the magazine, T2 features section and the foreign pages. Having previously worked for The Herald in Glasgow, she moved to The Times in 2006, after winning Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards. Taken from The Times


Journalistic Writing

‘It’s child abuse that has gone mainstream’ – 1/31/2014, The Times Mutilated, scarred by FGM — Dr Comfort will heal the wounds – 4/2/2014, The Times ‘I was so shocked. This has to stop’ – 1/25/2014, The Times


You can’t scream, you can’t cry, you can’t feel sorry for the girls – 2/6/2014, The Times


You can’t scream, you can’t cry, you can’t feel sorry for the girls – 2/6/2014, The Times

Randeep Ramesh


This series of pieces in news story, video and data blog format which exposed how bookmakers have targeted poorer areas with high speed, high stakes gambling machines. The Guardian’s revelations about violence, money laundering and problem gambling associated with these terminals put the issue on the government’s agenda, forcing ministers to act.


Journalistic Writing

England’s poorest bet £13bn on gambling machines – 2/28/2014, The Guardian David Cameron set to announce crackdown on gambling machines – 4/6/2014, The Guardian More than third of betting machine players experience problems with gambling – 12/10/2014, The Guardian  


FOBTs: ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’ – video – 4/6/2014, The Guardian

Mark Townsend


The entry exposes the policy of entrusting the care of some of the most vulnerable people in society to unaccountable firms who have an interest in covering up mistreatment.

The video component was embedded in the online versions of the entry that appeared in The Observer on 18 May 2014. Two linked articles appeared in that newspaper edition, a detailed investigation that is the submitted entry and a front page article setting out the concerns.  

 Journalistic Writing

Serco and a search for the truth – 5/17/2014, The Observer newspaper and the Guardian online


‘They are treating us like animals’ – 5/17/2014, Guardian online

Steve Connor


Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent and i. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; four times highly commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigations into the tobacco industry. Taken from The Independent

Journalistic Writing

The Lost Girls  – 1/15/2014, The Independent  


I had to terminate my pregnancies…. – 3/15/2014, The Independent

Edward Docx


At the age of 14, Karl appeared on the front page of The Daily Mail as the leader of the MAD gang in Brixton pointing an automatic weapon at the camera. He was the leader of one of the most violent and feared gangs in London. He was involved in serious knife and gun crime. He was witness to several murders. Quite literally, he carries the scars. On the day the first interview of the piece was supposed to happen, Edward Docx received the following text: “A very close friend of mine was stabbed severely in the chest yesterday and passed away an hour ago. I’m in the hospital now and won’t be able to meet with you.” Understandably, at this point, Karl stopped taking calls and responding to all communications. When, finally, the connection was re-established, Karl remained reluctant and afraid of both the police and current gang members. The process of building trust was fragile and had to be conducted slowly, patiently and sensitively. The idea for the piece was simple: to render Karl’s world through Karl’s eyes. By approaching the piece in this way, Docx hoped to portray the subject as resonantly as possible without sacrificing the detail and intimacy which the rhetoric around gang-culture so often swamps. From a stylistic point of view, Docx hoped to relay the intensity of Karl’s experience by using the semi-formal idea of a dialogue – but one that took place in the locations of the events described, including the recent murders. In this way, he hoped the emergent story might be clearer and the subject drained of distortions. In the background were two further ideas: first, to tell the story of a demographic that is very seldom told; and second, to capture a slice of life in the capital of Britain in 2014 three miles down the road from the Houses of Parliament. The piece seeks to ask questions and to illuminate. It reports on tragedy but also on redemption. It is a personal story, but it reveals and re-presents a part of our culture. In the best tradition of British journalism, it bears intelligent witness. Most of all, it deserves as wide an audience as possible. To this end – Prospect Magazine worked with Docx to promote the piece across as many social media platforms as possible and it was widely circulated, even reaching the west coast of America via British actress, Thandie Newton, who came came across it and championed it on Twitter. The author would also like to acknowledge that the social media side of publication was run in conjunction with the digital team at Prospect Magazine.

Journalistic Writing

Social Media

@prospect_uk Link to social media content

Lindsay Pantry


I am submitting on behalf of The Yorkshire Post’s Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign, which launched in February 2014. The majority of work has been done by myself, with initial reporting by Ben Barnett, video journalism by Peter McNerney and photography by Bruce Rollinson.

Additional reporting and video can be found at We launched the Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign with two main aims, for loneliness to be universally recognised as a health priority in our communities and to encourage our readers to volunteer for support services. Back then, nine of the region’s health and wellbeing boards failed to give significant mention of loneliness and social isolation in their overarching strategies, a crucial document that sets out priorities for health and social care for the coming years. Four of these have now pledged action, but we want a firm commitment from all local authorities to tackle loneliness, which takes it toll on 91,300 older people in our region. The campaign has received high-profile support from leading politicians, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, charities like Contact the Elderly, Independent Age and Friends of the Elderly, and Silver Line founder Esther Rantzen. On April 8, the campaign took a huge step forward when it was asked by the national charity, the Campaign to End Loneliness to chair amd host a summit on loneliness. Almost 100 people attended and it brought together experts working on the ground to share best practice. During the last year we’ve seen investment in tackling loneliness in Calderdale, where £1m was set aside for voluntary and community groups working on loneliness, and in North Yorkshire where a similar amount was also set aside. There too, separate funding was given to a community connect service working in the most remote areas of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. Leeds Council credited The Yorkshire Post’s campaign for their part in highlighting the issue in its winning bid for £6m of lottery funding in September. A project in Sheffield also won £6m. In May our campaign beat competition from 29 newspapers to win the Newspaper Society’s Making a Difference award, which highlighted the difference local newspapers can make in their communities, and was voted for by the public. In November, we were shortlisted alongside The Sunday Times, The Guardian and other national titles at the Older People In The Media Awards in the Best Factual Newspaper or Magazine Article About Older People’s Issues category. But perhaps most importantly, over the last 12 months The Yorkshire Post has also told the stories of real people suffering from loneliness, from the disabled pensioner stuck in her own home with only the TV for company, to the elderly man whose life has been transformed by weekly visits from a befriending service. As the anniversary of the first year of campaigning approaches, we are continuing to put pressure both locally and nationally on the authorities to take the issue seriously and are also preparing to launch two important initiatives which take the campaign back to the people who matter – those suffering from loneliness. In February we will host the first Friendship Lunch in a North Yorkshire pub, aimed at people who may not get out of the house much, and we will also launch an audio archive of real people telling their stories of loneliness on our website. This hard-hitting multi-media campaign will strike in a way that statistics sometimes do not.  

Journalistic Writing

Thousands in region suffering misery of loneliness – 2/8/2014, The Yorkshire Post No excuse to keep loneliness in the shadows – 4/9/2014, The Yorkshire Post Number of elderly people living alone and vulnerable set to rise – 6/23/2014, The Yorkshire Post Fears for lonely as councils fail to take action over epidemic – 2/08/2014, The Yorkshire Post Yorkshire’s shame as region branded worst for loneliness – 9/7/2014, The Yorkshire Post  


Video: regional loneliness summit hears calls for urgent action – 4/9/2014,  


‘Sundays are the worst… I just feel so alone’ – 8/2/2014, The Yorkshire Post

Lindsay Poulton


Credits: Jason Burke (writer), Lindsay Poulton (producer director), Francesca Panetta (executive producer and commissioning editor), David Levene (photographer)

THE SHIRT ON YOUR BACK is an interactive documentary about the Rana Plaza disaster in the context of the global fashion industry that knits us all together – it reminds the viewer that we are indeed part of the story. It was the worst industrial accident anywhere in the world for a generation – on 24 April 2013 a nine-story factory building on the outer edges of Dhaka collapsed. More than 1,130 people were killed and twice as many again were injured. They were making clothes sold in our high street stores. Right now, you could be wearing something made by one of them. Guardian journalists investigate the human cost of the global garment industry. This interactive documentary is a thought-provoking look at both the impact of the fast fashion industry, and the tragic events that took place on 24 April 2013. Combining compelling video footage with photography, infographics and written editorial we will take you to where millions make our clothes. While you’re with us, and them, we’ll keep track of how much they earn making our clothes and how much we spend buying them.  

Journalistic Writing

The Shirt on Your Back – 4/16/2014, The Guardian  


The Shirt On Your Back – 4/16/2014, The Guardian

Times team


Extremists in Britain with links to Islamic State jihadists are offering cash payments to teenagers so they can travel to join terrorists in Syria, an investigation by The Times has found. A three-month undercover operation, in which reporters posed as two schoolgirls, has exposed the ease with which young British Muslims are being groomed, radicalised and facilitated in making the journey to join the foreign conflict. Take from the Times     Journalistic Writing Secrets of Britain’s teen terror trade uncovered – 12/19/2014, The Times  


Secrets of Britain’s teen terror trade uncovered (see video tab) – 12/19/2014, The Times  

Social Media

(See “read the messages” tab – our own digital presentation of some of the content from an investigation carried out almost entirely via social media.) (see “Read the messages” tab)

George Arbuthnott

This year, George Arbuthnott has spearheaded a series of hard-hitting campaigns and public interest exposés that have forced the government into change.

His campaign to highlight modern slavery in Britain has continued apace. In January, he revealed migrants in the UK’s fishing fleet were being systematically exploited and in the spring he disclosed Eastern European slaves had been forced to work on £2 a day at a bed factory in northern England supplying two of Britain’s biggest retailers. The firm’s owner later became the first UK boss to be charged with human trafficking. Arbuthnott then informed the Home Office the ancestor of the abolitionist William Wilberforce said his forefather would be saddened by its persistent refusal to act and, a day later, the government announced big business would indeed be forced to publicly report on its anti-slavery efforts.  

Journalistic Writing

Slaves in peril on the sea – 1/19/2014, The Sunday Times Magazine  


Slaves in peril on the sea – 1/19/2014, Sunday Times multimedia team production

Louise Tickle


I have been writing about domestic abuse for over a year now, and have come to realise that the tragic murders which hit the headlines are far from the only aspect of this horrendous, yet everyday, social evil that demands our urgent concern. Hundreds of thousands of victims and their children live with violence, threat, coercion and control every day of their lives. Some of those lives are blighted for decades. The dynamics of abuse within a family home are typically complex, and the effects can be devastating.

I spent four months researching the Guardian Weekend feature which explores how well – or not – victims’ risk levels are identified and addressed by police – and what happens when they get it wrong. Access was difficult: I contacted several police forces and only one agreed to have me in to see their domestic abuse response operation. The piece was planned to run immediately after publication of what turned out to be a scathing HMIC inspection report into the DV performance of all 43 police forces in England and Wales, and in the week following I received a number of emails in response from victims and relatives. Some of the research I wasn’t able to use for the Weekend feature led to other articles. In the case-study element of a two-parter for the Guardian’s Social Care Network, I featured “Gillian”, whose violent husband had just been jailed. She was at risk of her life on the day of the verdict – in case he got off – and again on the day of sentencing – in case he walked with time served.  After her perpetrator was jailed, the Legal Aid Agency refused to meet Gillian’s legal costs as she tried to change her children’s names and flee the area. She was terrified, desperate to move on, but unable to: she was sure she’d be hunted down and killed. It wasn’t an exaggerated fear: women are murdered by a partner or ex on on a regular basis. Sometimes their children are killed too. This was a short piece, but it was the most read on the Guardian’s Social Care Network on the day it was published. By this point, I was aghast and furious at the various failures in the system that were compounding the risks faced by vulnerable and traumatised people. The damage caused to children also makes me incredibly sad. I wanted a more structured way of exploring the pressures and dilemmas in victims’ lives, rather than the adhoc approach of trying to get one commission here and another there. Over a couple of days, I wrote a detailed proposal for a campaign, and approached Wendy Berliner who heads up editorial for the Guardian’s online Professional Networks. As domestic abuse is so central to the work of many public sector professionals, I hoped a series of linked articles would reach a good number of relevant and hopefully interested people. Wendy, together with the Guardian’s social policy editor David Brindle, were instantly keen, and invited me to a meeting at which we convinced the Network editors – Social Care, Health, Public Leaders, Housing, Student, Higher Education, Teacher and Voluntary Sector – to take it on. They would commission a range of content over a period of a few months (this is ongoing), some written by me, some by other journalists. The campaign launched on the UN’s Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, 25 November 2014, with my feature about a multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC), which seeks to bring all agencies together to discuss an area’s highest risk victims. Gillian’s plight had continued to worry me. I thought about her a lot. By October 2014, almost a year after I’d first met her, I discovered she’d been turned down once again for legal aid. Children’s services were by now concerned for the family’s safety. And women’s organisations were also now telling me that restrictions to legal aid for domestic abuse victims introduced in the recently passed Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act were putting people in more danger. It seemed that every state system meant to protect a vulnerable person who was being attacked – and their children – was letting them down. Legal aid cuts are a complex topic, however, and I knew it would need a long-form approach to explore the ramifications fully.  I approached an editor new to me at the Guardian’s Saturday pages, Susanna Rustin. This section commissions up to 2,500 words. Wonderfully, given she didn’t know me at all, she commissioned a piece. I went back to Gillian (in this piece known as Alice) and asked her to talk to me again. This time, we met at her home, and sat on the sofa where she had been repeatedly raped by her husband, to do the interview. It was an easy interview – she is a remarkable and resilient person – but a difficult couple of hours: I wondered if I was sitting in front of someone I would write about 18 months hence when her ex-husband had come out of prison and killed her. Her local police force were deadly serious about the danger she was in. Social services were so concerned for the children’s welfare at this point that they were prepared to pay her legal costs. The legal aid agency was still saying she earned £27 too much to qualify for state support to access the protection of the court. This piece got a huge response: 3,145 social media shares and 91 comments, plus a slew of emails offering financial support for Alice, one from a man who had watched his mother being abused throughout his childhood, and who himself was still suffering the effects. Just before the piece ran, I decided to make a little film for the Guardian’s Professional Networks to try to get across what it’s like as a domestic abuse victim to end up in court all by yourself, possibly to be cross examined by your abuser. Making the film was only possible thanks to a week of pro-bono filming and technical expertise generously given by documentary company True Vision, and it went live on the Guardian’s online “front” page on 11 December, the day before the charity Rights of Women’s judicial review into the lawfulness of restricting legal aid for DV victims was heard at the High Court. The Storify I am submitting relates to a recent session at the Public Accounts Committee, in which evidence was given by Ministry of Justice civil servants as to the effects of legal aid cuts. Margaret Hodge was clearly angry. I watched the session live online, tweeted and retweeted others’ tweets as it happened, and then curated and published this Storify of my tweets and relevant others immediately afterwards.   Journalistic Writing Domestic abuse survivor: ‘Injunctions won’t stop my ex’ – 21/04/2014, The Guardian Domestic abuse: why did my sister have to die? – 4/5/2014, The Guardian, Weekend magazine Abused and afraid – and denied legal aid – 29/11/2014, The Guardian Domestic abuse: how professionals come together to support high risk victims – The Guardian, 25/11/2014  


Domestic abuse: “legal aid cuts leave women and children at risk” – 12/11/2014, The Guardian  

Social Media

@louisetickle DV victims: are legal aid cuts putting women in danger?