Prashant Anand is a senior compliance manager with a bank in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

When looking out the window or walking down the street, do you spy something that needs attention or that could use improvement?

They may not be detectives, but our community reporters know how to assess the situation, ask the right questions and actively participate in finding solutions.

The newspaper recognises those who raised their voice on issues that they felt were important, relevant and required immediate attention.

Today, we acknowledge and award community reporters who shared their experiences and brought significant matters to the fore during the month of September.

The Your Turn page's Community Report section has highlighted myriad subjects that concerned residents and helped alert the authorities about matters that required urgent attention.

Topics of concern in September ranged from the need for child safety in vehicles to incomplete road work around the city.

Readers have found Community Reports to be the right platform to create awareness and turn the spotlight on situations that generate interest and truly impact their lives.

Raising important questions, seeking answers from the relevant authorities and highlighting social issues take effort. And community reporters do not shy away from taking the leap, if it has a chance of making a real difference.

The community reports published in September were judged by UAE Editor Meher Murshed. The criteria for selection included content, issue, impact on community, responsibility and the quality of contribution.

Here are the winners:

First prize

Young at risk on abras

September 30

By: Prashant Anand

Reason for selection:When a pleasant ride on an abra or a water taxi turned stressful for a father of two, he decided to highlight the importance of child safety on board the mode of public transport.

According to UAE Editor Meher Murshed, it was a wise decision.

He said: "The reader has highlighted an issue that has not struck a lot of people. Abras are a cheap and widely-used mode of transport and safety on board is an important concern. The reader has proven the role of a community reporter very well by highlighting a problem that affects a lot of people."

Profile:Prashant Anand is a senior compliance manager with a bank in Dubai.

The reader said he is optimistic about seeing results from the authorities, having voiced his concerns.

"I truly believe that [community reports] are a great platform. However, I also believe the newspaper should be used by the public to share their good experiences, as any kind of appreciation to individuals or authorities for accomplishing a good task goes a long way in enforcing confidence in them to keep up the good work."

Second prize 

Drive home the message

September 19

By: Anuradha Iyer

Reason for selection:Appalled by reckless driving and unsecured cargo on trucks, the reader shared her experience with the newspaper.

For UAE Editor Meher Murshed, the compelling photograph of a loose bumper tells the story of impending disaster — it fell off a few minutes after the picture was taken.

The judge said: "This is very good photojournalism. Such practices [of incorrectly securing cargo in trucks] could very well have disastrous consequences and even lead to the death of another motorist."

Profile:Anuradha Iyer works as the head of support staff in a company in Dubai.

She said: "No doubt, the authorities are taking more precautions and implementing rules to ensure safe driving, but over the past four years, I have still come across some irresponsible drivers who probably do not understand the value of life."

Community reports are a good way to address the issue, the reader said.

"I have seen many differences after community reports have been published — especially with respect to concerns such as construction debris, safety and hygiene. I feel these reports really help the community have a better living environment."

Third prize

Abused dog needs complicated surgery

September 22

By: Montserrat Martin

Reason for selection:The reader's community report was selected not just for its focus on the ongoing issue of animal abuse, but also for the successful and overwhelming response it usually garners from the community after publication.

UAE Editor Meher Murshed said: "Animal cruelty seems to continue. Such issues need to be highlighted as animals cannot speak for themselves. People can make a difference in their lives."

Profile:Montserrat Martin is the founder of Friends of Animals group, and is based in Dubai.

Post-publication, her community report kept volunteers busy, as they received over 70 calls from residents who were interested in helping the abused or abandoned animals.

The community reporter said: "Without the help of Al Rahma Society — Abu Dhabi for helping Amal the dog, Modern Veterinary Clinic for supporting the cost of her operation, Gulf News and its readers, this story could not have ended on such a positive note."