BBC Local Radio is teaming up with manufacturers, retailers and a loneliness charity to offer free DAB radios to the most vulnerable people aged over 70 amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The announcement comes as millions of people are forced to stay at home and isolate themselves from family and friends.
As part of the BBC’s Make a Difference campaign, launched in the wake of the virus outbreak, BBC Local Radio has said that it wants to ensure as many people as possible have access to it. The DAB digital radio giveaway will be running across all 39 BBC Local Radio stations in England and is aimed at connecting communities. The Make a Difference campaign aims to work as a virtual community notice board, linking together those who want to give help with those in need. Since it started, the BBC’s Local Radio stations have been receiving more than 8,000 calls a day from members of the public.
The corporation has been widely praised for its extensive coverage during the pandemic with record figures being reported from viewers tuning in for news and updates. Yesterday (26 March) BBC Director of News, Fran Unsworth, provided an update on how BBC News is covering the outbreak and changes that viewers may have noticed on screen. It was also announced earlier this week that the BBC would suspend job cuts to focus on coronavirus coverage.
She said: “BBC News has never had a more important role to play. Millions of people are turning to the BBC for accurate information they can trust in these strange and difficult times.
“It’s our responsibility to you, our audiences, to report ‘on the ground’. To show you what is happening across the country and the world; to record the effects of the government’s measures to fight the virus; to talk to the staff on the frontline of the NHS; to chronicle how the UK is faring during its ‘lockdown’” she added.
From Monday March 30, anyone can nominate someone for a free DAB radio by completing an online application form at wavelength/radiohero
The radios have been donated by Argos, Currys PC World, John Lewis & Partners, Pure and Roberts Radio and will be distributed by loneliness charity Wavelength, who provide technology to those in need.
Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC, said: “Local Radio is a lifeline at this time and has never been more important as a source of trusted local news and information, and also as a companion for people who are isolating.
“We want everyone who needs access to the radio to have it, that’s why we’re giving away DAB radios. I’m proud we’ve been able to coordinate this initiative with our partners who have been so generous in offering their resources.”
Tim Leech, Chief Executive of WaveLength, said: “WaveLength has been fighting loneliness for the last 80 years. We are delighted to come together with all partners to help provide radios to those over 70s most in need. This is what Wavelength was born to do!”