Press freedoms, VE Day, #HomeSafe

This week our Social Impact Briefing focuses on the state of press freedoms in light of World Press Freedom Day, virtual VE Day celebrations, and the safety of LGBT+ people during lockdown.

Authors: Borimir Totev
  • Reading time: 5 min.
  • Posted on: May 4, 2020

Press freedoms

Yesterday, Sunday 3 May, marked World Press Freedom Day. Celebration of the day became an annual occasion in 1993, with support from the UN and UNESCO. Embodied in this year’s theme ‘Journalism without Fear or Favour‘, the day aims to raise awareness on the importance of freedom of the press and remember journalists who have lost their lives or experienced resistance as a result of their work.

This year, the One Free Press Coalition called for the immediate release of all imprisoned journalists amid increasing threats to press freedom worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the Coalition released its 15th monthly ‘10 Most Urgent’ list, with half of the journalists on the latest list, including award-winning ethnic Uzbek journalist Azimjon Askarov and Egyptian journalist Solafa Magdy, currently imprisoned and at heightened risk of exposure to the virus.

Due to the current pandemic, the annual World Press Freedom Conference, initially scheduled for late April, will now take place from 18 to 20 October in The Hague, the Netherlands, as a joint celebration of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) and the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (2 November).

In light of the pandemic, the sector has faced significant drops in advertising revenue and concerns around what this could mean for the future ability of news organisations to provide clear and factual information have increased. Despite Europe being confirmed as the safest place for journalists by Reporters Without Borders’ latest edition of the World Press Freedom Index, we shouldn’t forget that threats against journalists in the United Kingdom continue to exist, with threat reports surfacing in Northern Ireland last month and continuous hostility against journalists, like the Guardian columnist Owen Jones.

A virtual VE Day

Last year, the government took the decision to move May’s early bank holiday (normally falling on the first Monday of the month) to Friday 8 May, coinciding the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. 

Unsurprisingly, due to the current lockdown and social distancing measures, public celebrations won’t take place. However, in a move to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and retain the significance of the occasion, a selection of activities for VE day have gone virtual.

People have been encouraged by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) to pay virtual tributes to the Second World War generation ahead of VE Day. The CWGC maintains memorials and cemeteries around the world that commemorate more than 1.5 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two world wars. By using the hashtag #ShareYourTribute on social media, anyone can add to a digital ‘Wall of Remembrance’ that will be collated on the CWGC website.

Virtual events have also been planned by The Royal Air Force Museum, National Army Museum and the National Museum of the Royal Navy in the form of a Virtual VE Day Festival. Similarly, a virtual Service of Remembrance will take place on Friday 8 May, broadcast by Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland, who have worked with the Scottish Government to ensure celebrations take place online. ITV also confirmed the commission of a program on Captain Tom Moore, former British Army Officer who raised more than £28million for the NHS and celebrated his 100th birthday last week, to air during VE Day. 


We asked the LGBT+ community to send us videos, showing what best represents “home” to them.

For many on lockdown, home isn’t a safe space.

Help provide LGBT+ young people with food & shelter – donate here to @aktcharity
Thank you #HomeSafe #aktogether

— SHAPE HISTORY (@ShapeHistory) April 29, 2020

For many who are LGBT+, home isn’t a safe space during lockdown. To help, we crowdsourced home movies from across the UK from hundreds of LGBT+ folk; sharing what best represents “home” to them. With the footage, we created a powerful ad supporting & driving traffic towards akt (The Albert Kennedy Trust) charity’s emergency appeal to provide help to LGBT+ young people with food and shelter during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

Here at akt, we support queer young people who are homeless or living in a hostile or abusive environment. Since lockdown, life has become even harder for many of these young people, who are unable to be themselves and for whom home is not a safe place. We’re really pleased to have Shape History’s support to raise awareness of our vital work, and funds to help us continue delivering services to vulnerable queer young people.

Matt Horwood, Assistant Director of Communications, akt

The video reached 30,000 views in its first 24 hours online, coinciding with the day on which Albert Kennedy, a 16 year old social care leaver from Manchester, tragically lost his life in Manchester 31 years ago. As of today, the video has been viewed more than 50 thousand times on Twitter and shared across more than 150 profiles. Feel free to watch the video, and if you like it – please share it with your audience. 

If you would like to donate to akt’s emergency appeal, please visit the appeal page here.

You may also like:

In view of our reflections on World Press Freedom Day, our Creative Director, Louise Cowley, put together a list of recommended movies to watch if you love investigative journalism:

Lions for Lambs
The Life of David Gale
Veronica Guerin
Frost vs Nixon
All the President’s Men
The Post

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