Help Me Investigate Welfare is a website to help those who want to investigate questions relating to the welfare system.
The site is based on Help Me Investigate.com, a site which was launched in July 2009 with funding from Channel 4’s 4iP fund and Screen West Midlands.
Investigations undertaken by users of Help Me Investigate include the uncovering of a £2.2 million overspend on Birmingham City Council’s website; false claims by publishers of a free newspaper; the worst places for parking fines; the real average cost of weddings; legal issues surrounding recording council meetings; police claims of sabotage against Climate Camp protesters; how much higher education costs the taxpayer; who is responsible for an advertising screen; does scrapping speed cameras save money? Varying availability of hormonal contraceptive on the NHS, and the allocation of Olympic torchbearer places.
Stories and information uncovered by the site have been used by news organisations including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mail, Stoke Sentinel, Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, Bournemouth Echo, Caledonian Mercury, Der Tagesspiegel, the Health Service Journal, BBC Radio WM and BBC Radio 4.
The site was conceived by Paul Bradshaw, a visiting professor in online journalism at City University London and course leader of the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University.
In 2010 Help Me Investigate was shortlisted and highly commended for Multimedia Publisher of the Year in the NUJ’s Regional Media Awards, and won ‘Best Investigation’ in the Talk About Local/Guardian Local awards.
In February 2011 the code for the original site was released under an open source licence.
There is also a site blog, which provides regular tips and updates.
If you want to get involved in any of the Help Me Investigate sites, please leave a comment or contact us privately on firstname.lastname@example.org