From radio DJ to digital inclusion and from coach trips to scrutiny committees – Steve does it all.
Steve has lived on his estate in Plymouth since 2000 and, when ill-health forced him to give up work, he channelled his skills and energy into the local community.
For nearly 15 years Steve has been dedicated to supporting residents in the south-west of England, getting involved with digital skills, mystery tours, the regional scrutiny committee and many other ways…
Digital inclusion is a long-term and award-winning activity for the resident group. Teaching computer skills across the region has also netted Steve an award for training the most digital champions. The Grace Award is another highlight, as it recognises his contribution locally: “Winning the Grace Award that was the best thing I ever got as I was nominated by the residents. It meant so much.”
For Steve, involvement is about using his voice for other residents: “If you have a voice, you should use it, and I’m able to be a voice for residents. Residents know we’re here for them. It’s giving them a voice – that’s what I get out of it.”
Steve is now using his voice for residents as a radio DJ, one of 18 volunteer presenters taking to the airwaves at Ferndale Community Radio.
Always looking for new ways for community involvement, Steve started Ferndale Community Radio in 2019.
If you have a voice, you should use it. Residents know we’re here for them. It’s giving them a voice – that’s what I get out of it.
Here, Steve tells us more about the radio station and his activities as an involved resident.
“My involvement with Clarion started in 2007 when I was invited to join the then Affinity Sutton residents’ area panel. I was an active member for quite a few years and served as vice-chair for a year.
“During this time, I was also involved in the antisocial behaviour service task team, the outreach enablement forum and as a green Inspector on my estate.
“I’m still a green inspector and do a lot of outreach – teaching computers in the LiveSmart scheme and nearby estates.
“I’m also been involved in the scrutiny group. I enjoy the scrutiny, it’s challenging Clarion in the right way – as a critical friend. It’s up to us to let them know what’s happening.
“In 2010, our local resident involvement officer, Anita, approached me to ask if I could ‘do her a favour’. As I had experience as a chair of governors at a local school, the favour was to temporarily help a tenants’ group on my estate. All I can say is that I am still there.
“It’s is now a well-run, forward-thinking, community group and in the past 10 years I feel we’ve done a lot. Mostly outreach including mystery coach tours for the over 50s. This isn’t just for people on our estate, we travel across Plymouth picking people up from other Clarion estates.
“We’ve been to Torquay, Polperro, Exeter and Truro. We get there for a bit of lunch and some time to explore in the afternoon. It’s a lot of work to organise, but we have a laugh and its chance for people to get out and talk to some new faces.”
“We’ve been involved with digital inclusion since before Clarion Futures was launched, winning a Shine Award in 2014 and being nominated and shortlisted for the southern region TPAS award. We’ve been as far as Exeter and Bristol over the years doing digital inclusion and digital support.
“Before lockdown, we were running computer clubs around Plymouth, at a local LiveSmart scheme and on a nearby estate. We’re looking to continue these activities as soon as it's safe to do so.
Taking Ferndale to the airwaves
“In July 2019, we secured grant funding from Clarion Futures and were able to purchase equipment for Ferndale Community Radio Station.
“When we first started we advertised on Facebook for volunteer presenters and we now have 18, including top local DJs, hospital radio presenters, a nursery school teacher, media students and a local comedian and songwriter. We have presenters aged from 17 to 65.
“Then coronavirus hit us. But a £1,000 lottery grant enabled us to purchase five micro-studio kits which, along with three presenters who had equipment at home, has allowed us to have eight micro-stations in presenters’ homes. Some of our presenters live in the same households, so this has enabled us to continue live on air from midday to 10pm through the week, with some live shows on weekends. We maintain a 24/7 presence by re-airing pre-recorded shows.
“Our listener numbers are increasing and we’re helping with social isolation and wellbeing.”
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