Keep Connected grant helps community radio project
10th June, 2020
Fastershire's ‘Keep Connected’ grant has helped Herefordshire based community group, Unite The Beat, to launch a new radio station and continue to support people who benefit from their services.
Emily Robertson co-founded Unite The Beat with her husband, Malik Tokwe, in the summer of 2017.
The community group uses music and nature to promote connection and curiosity, and help reduce social isolation and loneliness. Lockdown brought about by the coronavirus meant the Herefordshire-based group faced an uphill challenge to continue supporting those who benefit from their service.
This is when the Fastershire ‘Keep Connected’ grant from Herefordshire Council proved such a lifeline. Brought in within a week of lockdown beginning, the Keep Connected
grant, up to £500, is for community groups and not-for-profit organisations to help them adapt to delivering services online.
"We were at home thinking, ‘what can we do during this time,’ when the idea of an online radio show came up,’ said Emily. "So we applied for the grant which has allowed us to buy the relevant licences to broadcast a weekly show."
"We can’t thank the Fastershire ‘Keep Connected’ grant enough. It’s enabled us to launch this show which has been absolutely fantastic and really liberating.
It’s probably the smallest grant we’ve applied for, but its effect has been transformational."
The two-hour online slot has quickly built up a loyal following with around 100 people regularly tuning in.
"People call in who have never met before and you’d think they are long-lost friends,’ added Emily. It’s been lovely. Really wonderful. We’ve had people from various cities tune in, and different family members unable to meet up."
One caller’s relative died a year earlier so to mark 12 months since her funeral, she shared the memory on the air with family. And a couple, unable to get married because of the coronavirus restrictions, were serenaded with an hour-long music set also featuring messages from their friends and family.
"My mum, Jane, is a regular listener and I’ve learnt so much about her from the songs she’s requested. We’re really close and the show has been such a great way to get to know her better. She’s asked for some awesome tunes with all sorts of fun stories attached.’ Emily adds that requests on the show have ranged from Teddy Bears’ Picnic to the popular pop song Dance Monkey.
"It’s really brought people together, promoting memory through music. There are a lot of people who are struggling with isolation. Lockdown has made this more of a challenge, even for those not usually affected by it. Hopefully things like this can help."
The radio has also enhanced some of Unite The Beat’s other work including their virtual music-making project with young people accessing Herefordshire-based Hope Support Services, which provides support to those aged 5-25 in the county when a loved one is seriously ill.
To listen to the show, visit Unite The Beat
each Thursday between 6pm – 8pm.