TIMES are hard for charities. People have less cash these days and the money they do have is going on essentials.

There’s no doubt that as a result there are fewer coins for the collecting tin. It’s a concern then to hear the fears of Ashgate Hospice’s head of fundraising Joanne Edwards, who believes the new Health Lottery will mean less money coming into the coffers as opposed to more.

With Government funding appallingly inadequate, the charity, like so many others, relies on local people to give generously to enable them continue their hugely important service. It’s up to us to continue to give generously where we can - because every penny does make a difference.

This week the Derbyshire Times launches a new competition to help fledgling local businesses. Backed by the Newspaper Society, the Times is offering thousands of pounds of free advertising and the services of a high-profile business mentor in a campaign to support business start-ups and to promote the benefits of advertising in the local press.

See the full details on pages 18 & 19.

We are delighted to announce our plans for a Derbyshire Times carol service - and we look forward to meeting many of our readers there (see our story on page 7). J Do get your ticket request in early to avoid disappointment.