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Community radio continues to support those feeling lonely and isolated

PUBLISHED: 17:32 12 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:32 12 August 2020

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival organisers and Future Radio teamed up to create an hour-long show over the days that the festival was due to take place in May. It was hosted by comedy duo Hunt & Darton  Picture: Future Radio

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival organisers and Future Radio teamed up to create an hour-long show over the days that the festival was due to take place in May. It was hosted by comedy duo Hunt & Darton Picture: Future Radio

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Community charity Future Projects has been helping people throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Here we find out more about its efforts to keep the community connected.

Future Projects has been providing support through its three core strands: Future Radio, Future Education and Future Support.

At the beginning of the lockdown, Future Radio lost its home when the news broke that its landlord, Open Youth Trust, had gone into liquidation. However, the community radio station has been working tirelessly to continue supporting its team of 65 volunteers and broadcasting its shows, as well as key public service information, even without a studio.

“Future Radio is a lifeline for many of our volunteers, providing an opportunity to engage with others, learn skills, and to represent themselves and their communities,” says Christopher Remer, volunteer coordinator at Future Radio.

“Over the last few months, Future Radio staff have been in constant contact with volunteers, many of whom are recording shows and content from home.”

Christopher Remer, volunteer and income coordinator at Future Radio, has been broadcasting from his kitchen  Picture: Future ProjectsChristopher Remer, volunteer and income coordinator at Future Radio, has been broadcasting from his kitchen Picture: Future Projects

The station has hosted virtual events when physical events couldn’t take place. For example, a daily radio show entitled Radio Local was arranged in place of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival in May, which would have brought together thousands of people across the city.

Hosted by comedy duo Hunt and Darton, who were due to perform at the festival, the daily shows connected with local people over the phone, via Zoom workshops and through online networks, responding to and witnessing this unprecedented time and celebrating people’s boredom.

In collaboration with Voluntary Norfolk, the station is also broadcasting the Better Together Show – read more about this in the panel to the right.

Future Education, meanwhile, supports some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in Norfolk, and has been operating a 24/7 phone line for its children and families throughout the Covid-19 lockdown.

Will Dowe, from Voluntary Norfolk'’s Better Together team, will be hosting the Better Together Show on Future Radio   Picture: Voluntary NorfolkWill Dowe, from Voluntary Norfolk'’s Better Together team, will be hosting the Better Together Show on Future Radio Picture: Voluntary Norfolk

The team have made over 3,500 welfare, academic and therapeutic calls to their 31 students, as well as 200 socially-distanced home visits to children who are most in need.

Future Support helps disadvantaged and isolated people avoid crisis in areas such as housing, employment, criminal justice, welfare rights and loneliness, and has seen huge increases in demand for its services during lockdown.

The dedicated loneliness and isolation service has been concerned that its clients would be set back by the lockdown, so has maintained contact through phone calls, videocalls and socially-distanced meetings for extremely vulnerable clients.

“Our work has proven invaluable for clients, for whom loneliness is already a severe and debilitating problem,” says adult services manager Grace Richardson.

Eighty-year-old Ethel struggled with loneliness after her husband was placed in a care home. Medical conditions made it hard for her to leave the house, but through the service she was partnered up with Debbie, a local volunteer who visited her every week

“After the first visit, Ethel’s daughter reported that her mum had phoned to say how much she enjoyed Debbie’s company and she couldn’t stop talking about her visit,” says Grace.

“Debbie had to suspend her visits at the start of the lockdown, but switched to calling Ethel for long chats and hopes to resume her visits as soon as possible.”

For more information visit www.futureprojects.org.uk

Better Together radio show

An innovative monthly radio show for Norwich has been launched to raise awareness and provide entertainment and support for people who are lonely or socially isolated. The Better Together Show brings together the broadcasting expertise of Future Radio and the professional skills and personal warmth of Will Dowe from Voluntary Norfolk’s Better Together team.

Will has become a well-known face and voice in Norwich for the support he is offering lonely and isolated people during Covid-19, including his daily 2pm Facebook check-in and running a new pen-pal scheme.

Discussions about loneliness and isolation will be reflected throughout the show, together with great music, inspirational guests, and news on activities and events.

“Most people experience loneliness at some time in their lives,” says Will. “It affects people of all ages and all backgrounds, but Covid, social isolation and lockdown has made it so much more common. Connecting with people, volunteering and taking part in activities and groups can help, and it is still possible to do those things, even when we are confined to our homes, but it can be hard to take those first steps.

“I hope my show will raise awareness of loneliness and what support is available, but most of all, I hope it is entertaining and a positive experience for people who are listening and joining in.”

The Better Together Show runs from 6-7pm on the first Saturday of the month. The next show will be on Saturday, September 5. Listen live at http://futureradio.co.uk/

Norwich Together Alliance

Future Project and Better Together are members of the Norwich Together Alliance.

In a time of isolation, helping communities to connect has never been more important. It’s vital for our health and wellbeing.

With an ambition to tackle loneliness and social isolation in Norwich, Aviva established the Norwich Together Alliance last year.

The alliance is a network of local businesses, charities and the council that have joined forces to explore how we can shape our city to help us all feel more connected.

The aim is to create a more connected and cohesive city for everyone.

Now more than ever, alliance members want to be there for you and offer the support and guidance you need to get through this challenging time.

For more information and stories on what the Norwich Together Alliance members are doing to bring Norwich Together, click here.


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