Our Radio is a community orientated online radio station. I support people with a learning disability to run it and it is one of the best things I have ever been involved with.
The station came about in 2014 when, inspired by a course we were doing at Resonance FM, the group I was working with decided they would like to set up and run their own station. Together with the amazing fundraising team from Mencap I helped raise some money for the group and we haven’t looked back since then. I have been involved in radio for 20 years now and Our Radio beats all other stations hands down.
We come together once a week.There are lots of vital things for the group to cover: engaging and being diplomatic with guests, finding unique and appropriate content, starting and bringing a show in on time and putting together inspired playlists that are relevant to the subjects we are talking about. These are some of the things we support the group to do and our working target is to put a fantastic timetable of Learning Disability inspired content out live online on the last Friday of every month.
Everyone at Our Radio has suffered isolation from the community to some degree, and quite a few of them have found it affects their confidence and communication skills, which in turn fuels the sense of isolation again.
What I have found is that being on the radio course and producing their own shows has helped their social skills immensely. Working once a week with other programme makers and guests in a space that is both competitive and nurturing has brought a sense of purpose and camaraderie, which in turn has helped them make some new friends, often for the first time.
Supporting the group to produce their own shows has boosted a lot of the groups confidence to a great degree and doing something they love successfully has made them realise they have got something valid and positive to offer society. For myself it is a direct and creative route to break down the barriers of isolation and negligence.
Furthermore Our Radio has become quite adept at social media. We introduced twitter and Facebook and Instagram into the mix and this has opened new doors for the group. Everything we do on Our Radio is documented and disseminated. The group have had big discussions about not only the benefits but the drawbacks of using social media and are in the process of writing a radio play about safety on the internet.
We have made some brilliant links with other organisations and it is inspiring to have guests from groups such as Heart and Soul and Gig Buddies who are doing so much to change people’s lives for the better. We have been inspired by both these organisations to try and promote our first live gig in Islington. We have the bands lined up and are busy right now looking for the right venue.
Our next broadcast will be on 26 February and the soul singer Lizzie Emeh will be our special guest on the day. We always have a theme for each month’s show and February’s will be ‘For Love and Money’ and will look at how relationships and finance impact on people with learning disabilities.
The best thing is knowing people might be listening and there is a chance our voices might be heard. Let’s hope we can keep transmitting and build on what we have with Our Radio. I can’t say enough how much of a kick I get out of Our Radio, especially seeing the sheer joy and social benefits our working groups derive from it. Radio is the best, Our Radio is the future!