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Standards call to charities

Peter Mandelson, the minister responsible for policy, has appealed to the voluntary sector to enter a contract with the new Government to raise standards in education, health and welfare, "not as a cost saving, but to boost the quality and targeting of services".

Speaking at a conference in London sponsored by News International, the Government's chief spin doctor advised charities to take a leaf out of New Labour's book and use the media to promote their causes: "Voluntary organisations need to communicate more professionally and more widely." For their part, journalists should become more aware of their social responsibility, he said. The conference was organised by the Media Trust, a charity which aims to forge partnerships between the media and the voluntary sector.

Many delegates from charities were highly critical of the media's portrayal of disabled or otherwise disadvantaged people. James Rye, head of public relations at Scope, the charity for people with cerebral palsy, described how over three decades it had progressed from presenting images of passive children with leg calipers to an emphasis on the individuality of cerebral palsy victims, letting them speak for themselves.

The Media Trust, 3-6 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7EB. Tel 0171 637 4747

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