WaveLength wins eBay Small Charity Competition!

WaveLength is participating in Small Charity Week as a winner of eBay’s Give at Checkout Competition – read on for a chance to win a unique fishing experience, and give in a new way!

You may not know this, but this week (the 11th – 17thJune) is Small Charity Week 2012. All over the world, people are celebrating this week through promotions and other activities designed to help small charities – and WaveLength is proud to announce that we’ve been selected as winners of eBay’s initiative for the week.

Online shopping platform eBay’s ‘Give at Checkout Challenge’ displays four 90-character messages from small charities, which eBay users can decide to make a last-minute donation to when they reach the charity. Hundreds of suggested taglines were submitted to the organisers of Small Charity Week, the FSI (Foundation for Social Improvement).

WaveLength won one of the coveted four slots with the tagline: “I want to buy a radio for a lonely, isolated, housebound elderly person in the UK.”

If you shop on eBay any time this week, you’ll have the opportunity to make a seamless one-off donation to WaveLength without leaving the eBay site.

As one of the winners, WaveLength also has the opportunity to carry out a special auction using the eBay FSI platform. We’re auctioning a day-long fishing experience on a private section of the River Granta, accompanied and guided by our CEO Tim Leech. (For Tim’s fly fishing blog, see http://www.flyfishingpodcast.com.)

The auction concludes on the 17th June, so get down to http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270987806740#ht_483wt_1932 and make a bid! Or, if fishing’s not your thing, you can make a Small Charity Week donation to WaveLength by shopping on eBay and selecting Give at Checkout, or by visiting our JustGiving page at http://www.justgiving.com/wavel.

Happy Small Charity Week, everybody!

Our Second BT Storyteller Interview: Calum Graham on Sports and Community Development

SONY DSCCalum Graham is a sports and community development worker in Gretna, Scotland. He manages a Special Olympic team and is set to carry the Olympic Torch through Gretna on 21st June. He’s one of the 100 BT Storytellers selected to tell their Olympic stories – more about the scheme at http://www.btlondon2012.co.uk/storytellers/index.php

– Could you tell me a bit about the torch run?

Yes, if you actually go to the 2012 site you can see who nominated us, and what they said. On the 21st of June I’m running with the torch in the runaway wedding location, on Gretna. And I’m also part of the torch relay team here who are organising it, you know, the safe route through. So it’s all hands on deck at the moment, but yes, very much looking forward to it.

– Fantastic!

I know.

– Could you tell me a bit about why you decided to apply to be a BT Storyteller and what it means for you to be taking part in that?

Basically, you know, I’ve seen it in the papers, and the option came up. And I just thought… ‘Why would you be like to be involved, and how you would tell the story?’ And basically my job is sports development, in the south of Scotland, and I do a lot of work with children and things. And obviously, the Olympic Games, it’s never going to come here again in our lifetime. And it’s just a great way of… to me, it’s going to make my job easier. It’s a great way to – not even inspire a generations, but to inspire generations. It’s just using the Olympic Games to motivate people to get involved in sport, to live healthier lifestyles, to be more physically active. And I just thought it was a great way to being able to tell the story of the Olympic Games. It’s been a great move for me because I’m doing the rounds of more or less every school in the region, I’ve talked about the Olympic Games, I’ve talked about the values of the Olympic Games, and the meaning of the flame and all that… I went into all of my personal experiences which I’ve experienced over the last year, being part of the programme, a visit to the Royal Albert Hall on the big night just a few weeks ago… And it’s just been fantastic, it’s been absolutely – it’s not just been great for me personally, it’s been great for my job and helping get that message out there. I think it’s just captured the imagination.

– That sounds great! So you said you run a disability sports team, could you tell me about that? Is that for kids as well?

No, what it is, we in Annandale and Eskdale, we set up a charity. It was to help people with physical and learning difficulties to get involved in sport. And basically we set it up a number of years ago, we raised some funds for it, basically to offer giving people a chance to have a go who otherwise wouldn’t get the chance. And it’s grown out of all proportion now, because we take football teams to national competitions, and we take – we have weekly athletics, coaching, swimming, tennis, football: they’re doing everything. And what we’re doing as well is, we’re working a lot with learning difficulties. We’re actually taking a team to the Special Olympics, which is next year, in Bath. So it’s a big journey from Scotland – it’s a lot of work, taking two coaches full of people with learning difficulties down there – but it’s still worth it at the end of the day just to see what they get out of it.And on top of that, I actually took part in the first race in the Olympic stadium, at the end of March, and I was lucky enough to get some signed framed pictures from people like Chris Hoy and Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah and Steve Redgrave, and auctioned them off as part of my run. What I did was I put everyone who sponsored me into a special draw, and I made quite a bit of money! And that all goes back into the disability sports group, and that goes to raise the money to take them to Special Olympics and to do the things we do with them. And obviously I’m satisfied just to see the pleasure they get with it.

– Great, great.


– So do you think that the Olympics and Paralympics are going to do a lot for the sense of community in the country?

Absolutely. No I mean, like, kids…. actually what I’m experiencing where we are is, it’s actually bringing communities together. Because there’s events taking place, there’s things happening. Every weekend, we’re involved in something – either we’re doing something, or schools are doing something. And it’s crazy the way people are just becoming involved in community engagement. And people becoming involved, and volunteers, people just wanting to help and it’s just – yeah. To me, it’s the best thing that could have happened to the United Kingdom in years, in years.

– That’s great to hear. Could you tell me a bit about the modern technology, that we use to be able to talk about the Olympics – do you think that’s helpful for vulnerable people, like the people you work with?

Absolutely. The reason is because, well obviously, not everybody’s able to be able to get out there and see the Torch Relay, for instance. You know, they can’t get out there and actually… I know I’m doing some help, I’m setting up a lot of them – I’m actually helping a lot of them to get out to see the Torch Relay – but I do know some aren’t able to get out. So what we’re doing is, we’ve organised workshops. We’ve got this man that works for the Mac group, he’s going to give us a workshop, helping them to make their own torch. But the thing is, they’ll be able to sit wherever they are, turn the computer on, and then be able to watch it all live on the BBC website. I mean, that’s just terrific. And obviously I have a BT Storyteller site, so anything I write and anything I do, it goes up on that site there. It just makes life so much more accessible, and communication is so great nowadays. Communication for everybody’s great.

– What do you think people will be feeling when they’re watching or listening to that Olympic coverage?

Oh! Well… Do you know the seven values of the Olympic Games?

– I’ve heard of them, don’t know if I could name them all…

Well, let me reel them off – Respect, Excellence, Equality, Courage, Inspiration, Determination and… oh, there’s another one! But inspiration, to me is the word. The whole thing’s inspiring. I’ve been lucky enough to be in the Olympic Park three times already, and even just… Well, I’m from Scotland, and even just when you get off the train in London, there’s a buzz about the place. It’s just totally inspiring. Especially with the Torch Relay coming up as well, everybody’s beginning to feel a part of it. I keep telling people that my Olympic journey started a year ago, when I got to spend the day with Seb Coe and Daley Thompson, but for everybody in this area, their real Olympic journey starts probably on the 21st of June when we get the Torch Relay. I just think that’s… You can feel the buzz now, you can feel people getting excited, and I just think on the 21st of June it’ll really kick in. Although, I mean, it’s doing great now. I’ve done sport programmes, and it’s all Olympic themed, and kids are asking questions about Olympics, and which Olympic athletes will be there, and saying, ‘I want to do this now’— It’s just great, it’s just great.

– Great, great. If I could just ask you one quite general question to round things off…


– If there’s a key message for community in the 21stcentury, what do you think is going to be important in the years to come?

A key message for…

– Community.

Yes… Just community cohesion. I mean, everybody pulling together. If you give us two minutes I’ll give you a real answer, but – community cohesion, just everybody working and supporting each other. I think, you know, where the structure of local government’s going, everybody now… they’re decentralising things. So just everybody supporting each other and the community in what they do. Volunteering and that sort of thing!

– Great! Well thanks for talking to me, that’s really interesting to hear about.

Not at all.

Find out more abotu Calum Graham at http://www.facebook.com/calum.graham.35

Our First BT Storyteller Interview: Andy Wilkes on Photographing the Olympics and Paralympics!

Andy Wilkes is a construction worker on the Olympic site who’s also a prolific photographer and social media user. He’s one of the 100 BT Storytellers selected to tell their Olympic stories – more about the scheme at http://www.btlondon2012.co.uk/storytellers/index.php

– Why did you decide to apply to be a BT Storyteller and what does taking part mean for you?

Because I felt I had a story to tell. I had begun my Olympic journey three years earlier in 2008, when I first entered the Olympic site when it was still being demolished from its original state. I had been documenting this in my pictures and thought Storytellers would be a good way of allowing a wider audience to appreciate what was going on inside.

Taking part means that I can showcase some more of my work, and also get opportunities to attend and see events that otherwise I would have had no chance of attending.

– What did it feel like when you knew you’d been selected?

It was very exciting! We knew when the date of the announcements were being made but had no idea exactly when, so it was a morning of constant refreshing of the site and checking of e-mails until the notification came through – and when it did I was very pleased indeed.

– Do you think a big social event like the Olympics & Paralympics strengthens community in the country?

We’ve seen similar during football tournaments and also in previous Olympic Games, but the fact that this one is here, on home soil, will strengthen the community even more. People will be and feel more involved, what with the Torch Relay coming to most towns and cities, and the 2012 festivals being held all over the country in the run-up to the Games. More people will have been touched by the Games here than ever before, and those people will want to share those experiences. And who better to share them with than friends and neighbours?

– You’re very active on social media. What do you think of modern technology – television, radio and the internet – as a way of avoiding isolation among vulnerable people?

I think modern technology is very important in the avoidance of isolation among vulnerable people, as it can carry immediate news and events to people directly into their homes and to their mobile devices. Newspapers only tell yesterday’s news, but a good TV and radio service will keep you informed of events in real time, and can make you feel involved. Even if you are impaired in some way that means you cannot get to an event or celebration, you can still watch it unfold in front of your eyes, or listen to it happening on the radio.

– What’s your favourite story from the Games so far?

The Torch Relay. This has really brought it home to the people of Britain that’s its happening, and happening very soon. It’s all well and good having a countdown – two years to go, one year to go, 100 days to go, etc – but no-one could touch or see those things. Now they can touch or see the Olympic flame as it passes nearby, and the BBC’s coverage of the relay is so comprehensive, you could watch every step of the way if you so wanted to. And people have been organising events along the way of the relay, working together in communities.

– Your pictures of the sites of the Games are very beautiful. How have you experienced the process of changing the London landscape for the Olympics and Paralympics?

I’ve been privileged enough to see it from almost the beginning, when they were still demolishing the old site – and then I saw the new arena, and landscapes arise from the dirt and dust into the beautiful park it is now. And also to see the surrounding areas, like Stratford, Hackney Marshes, and Hackney Wick change too, with improvements to infrastructure and roads and pathways, art being put into place… The whole atmosphere of the surrounding area has changed.

– What are your hopes for the Olympic boroughs and their communities during and after the Games?

That as many of them get involved as possible and that they utilise the legacy after the games. They are going to have world-class facilities and a wonderful park to enjoy, right on their doorstep.

– Do you think coverage of the Paralympics is important in the portrayal of disabled people?

No. I don’t really see disabled people as different, in the same way as I don’t see people from other ethnic backgrounds as different. We are all humans in this world, be we white, black, abled or disabled and whatever is in-between. Although I think it’s great that we’ve given as much coverage to the Paralympics as we have done the main Olympics, as it were – and look at the sponsors, in a lot of their promotions they use disabled athletes in the same way they use able bodied athletes – I can foresee a day when there is no Paralympics, but just a longer, bigger, better ‘OLYMPICS’

– What could be the 21st century’s key message for community?

We are all someone’s Son, Daughter, Mother, Father, Brother Sister, Uncle & Aunt. Look at those less fortunate than yourselves and think, ‘What if that was me, or someone I love’, treat others with kindness and compassion. It’s the small things that matter: a smile, a wave, a cheery hello in the street. A ‘Can I help with that?’ attitude, rather than putting your head down and walking by.

Find out more about Andy at http://insidelondon2012.blogspot.co.uk/,
and https://twitter.com/#!/InsideLDN2012

TV ‘Window on the World’, says Digital Help Scheme

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWaveLength has just received a bulletin from the Switchover Help Scheme, giving progress for the spring and summer. With Kent, East Sussex, the Tyne Tees region and Northern Ireland still to convert their TVs to digital this year, eligible people can still get practical help with the switch. Tim is glad to see the importance of TV to lonely people recognised.

‘The Help Scheme is available for those who are aged 75 years or over; registered blind or partially sighted; who receive certain benefits as a result of disability; or who have lived in a care home for six months or more. Of course, this list of recipients overlaps significantly with WaveLength’s beneficiaries, and many of our beneficiaries have worked with both WaveLength and the Switchover Help Scheme to navigate the process of the digital switch.

‘I have mixed feelings about the digital switchover scheme, but one important thing that the process has done is to raise awareness of the importance of TV and radio in the lives of lonely people. In this bulletin, the scheme’s chief executive, Peter White, says: ‘What really helps is that people instinctively understand that TV is important in the lives of eligible people. It’s their window on the world and a way to stay connected when they are perhaps less active than they used to be. For those that live alone, TV is often a companion.’

‘Peter, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

‘Our hope for the scheme is that the attention drawn to these vulnerable people is sustained after the switch is complete. The Help Scheme is organising a ‘Helping Hand’ community campaign to encourage local shopkeepers, support workers and others to remind eligible people of the support available. Hopefully this will encourage a lasting principle of ‘checking in’ with people who are isolated. WaveLength regularly receives increasingly desperate requests from beneficiaries having problems with their TVs and radios, which could often be easily solved by somebody younger and more tech-savvy. We do our best to guide them through these difficulties, but in many cases, even casual community support could make all the difference.

‘So let’s celebrate the work that the Help Scheme are doing – and hope that this situation helps both community members and policy-makers to recognise the help through isolation which a digital ‘window on the world’ can provide.’

WaveLength Supporters for the Olympics and Paralympics

WaveLength welcomes the Olympic torch to Britain!

The Olympic Torch is in Britain!

Today sees the Torch progressing through Dover and Plymouth on its way to London, carried by expert runners who’ve volunteered to become part of the UK’s Olympic history. At WaveLength we’re all excited about the Olympics and the Paralympics, and the chance to unite as a society around a shared event.

As we see so many people struggle with mobility difficulties and isolation, we’re particularly glad to hear from the Paralympic Storytellers and other media figures revving up to compete. We hope that the Paralympics will encourage people from the whole spectrum of access needs and disabilities to believe that they can achieve anything. Many of our beneficiaries will be using their TVs and radios to tune in to stories of people determined not to let health or access problems get in their way.

We’re glad that Olympics and Paralympics communications sponsor BT is giving plenty of time and coverage to both contests. BT has been congratulated for its work in providing access to Games viewing through its TV, radio and internet connections. For our beneficiaries, this access to an event which the whole nation is following will provide not just comfort, but confidence and inspiration, as they see the demand within the UK to follow the stories of Paralympians.

This is supposed to be a time when the whole country joins together to celebrate and cheer on athletes. However, sadly we know that many elderly, isolated, housebound or chronically ill people feel left out of these events. We’re trying to do our bit by providing them with TVs and radios on which they can follow the Games. If you’re organising a street party, community viewing of a big event, etc to celebrate the Olympics and Paralympics, do make that extra bit of effort to include people in your street who might not be able to get out much. Participation in a community event can make all the difference in the world to someone who’s feeling lonely.

Digital Radio – Online or DAB?

Digital ROLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAadio UK, the body pushing for switchover to digital radio, claims that 50% of all radio users listen digitally at least once a week. But new evidence suggests a significant proportion of the growth is through web and mobile application listening, rather than dedicated digital radios (DAB radios). Although almost 30% of radio listening takes place on a digital format, DAB use is down by 0.% in the first three months of 2012. Meanwhile, online and app listening is at its highest yet, moving from 3.4% to 3.9%. Tim says he saw this coming two years ago…

‘I wasn’t surprised to hear these figures. I believe it’s two-and-a-half years ago since I suggested to Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK (DRUK), that increased digital growth is likely to take place online. After all, if most people have an analogue radio and an internet-connected computer, they’re likely to simply use the computer if they want to digital radio, rather than buying an expensive new DAB radio. I suggested that DRUK should give more emphasis to online listening, especially as internet-connected TVs become more popular.

‘Ford Ennals responded that such a possibility was unthinkable – the UK simply doesn’t have enough bandwidth available online for mass adoption of online digital radio.

‘But at WaveLength we believe that listening behaviours can’t be dictated. Of course the increasing trend towards online digital radio is alarming, because of the current sub-par state of UK broadband – which I blogged about here. But the solution is surely to improve broadband provision rather than putting more and more money into erecting digital radio transmitters.

‘Keeping the UK connected digitally is a fine and important goal. But we have to think very carefully about where to spend limited resources. DRUK wants to turn off analogue radio when 50% of listening is digital, but their timespan keeps being forced back. Not long ago, this goal was predicted for 2013, with switchover taking place in 2015. Now, they’re estimating a switchover in 2020. But should investment be redirected instead towards broadband?

‘The Consumer Expert Group, of which WaveLength is a part, thinks we should only switch when 50% of listening takes place through DAB radio, not when 50% of listening is digital in general. Otherwise, we risk a majority of analogue listeners – those who don’t want to use a computer or connected TV – forced to buy new digital radios. It’s our job to look out for the most vulnerable, so WaveLength will always campaign for access to preferred listening systems to be a priority, over new technology for new technology’s sake.’


Want to help WaveLength help isolated people? We provide equipment, support and representation to the elderly, long-term ill, disabled and those who are victims of domestic violence or of torture. Visit http://www.justgiving.com/wavel for a one-click donation.

Broadband – What To Do?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs companies including BT, Virgin and TalkTalk are criticised for substandard internet provision, our CEO Tim Leech sets out priorities for the development of broadband services.

‘Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about broadband provision in the media. This is due partly to BT’s full-year reports released last Thursday, and partly to the disconnect between projected goals – Communications minister Ed Vaizey claims the UK will be the European leader in broadband provision by 2015 – and the actual poor service experienced by many UK residents. Many people receive very slow broadband speeds, preventing them from doing things like watching BBC iPlayer or listening to digital radio online.

‘UK governments and big corporations sometimes seem to forget that our country has signed up to the UN Charter which states that communication and participation in society is a right, not a privilege. The UK’s inhabitants have a right to access good-quality internet connection, and plans for broadband should be made with this right in mind. Investing in even faster connections for those living in the middle of big cities should not take precedence over ensuring that the most rurally-located people can fight isolation by logging on. And for many disabled or housebound people, the internet is a vital tool in improving their independence, allowing them to stay in touch, order shopping and even work from home.

‘I think it’s our duty to stand up and say that there’s no point investing in broadband which does not provide equal access to people across the UK. Currently, those living in rural areas – such as myself – are disadvantaged severely when it comes to broadband provision. For some people, paying the high premiums to get a good service while living in a rural area is simply unaffordable.

‘Sometimes when I talk about broadband, people ask me what it has to do with WaveLength’s core mission. Aren’t we a TV and radio charity? Well, yes and no.

‘WaveLength’s remit is to relieve social isolation through media and communications. When our charity was established in 1939, there was no such thing as the Internet – and currently very few of our beneficiaries express a need for it. However, with 73 years of helping the vulnerable already under our belt, we see ourselves as a long-term charity, and the reality is that internet is only going to become more important. We must ensure that developments reach those who need them most.’

Want to help WaveLength help isolated people? We provide equipment, support and representation to the elderly, long-term ill, disabled and those who are victims of domestic violence or of torture. Visit http://www.justgiving.com/wavel for a one-click donation.

WAVELENGTH NEEDS YOU! Fundraiser Position Available

We’re looking for a Fundraiser/ Fundraising Manager to work full-time in our Hornchurch, Essex office. Please send a CV and cover letter to the email/ postal address given on this website.


Based in Hornchurch, Essex. 5 days per week


The Organisation

WaveLength, originally The Wireless for the Bedridden Society, was set up over 70 years ago with help from the BBC and London Rotarians, to relieve social isolation through the provision of radios.  We still provide radios and televisions, and hope to move into new areas of technology that will help to relieve and challenge isolation. The last few years have been challenging for WaveLength as we develop our concept and understanding of charitable giving, our ability to understand and respond to developing social need and to be able to meet these needs within our remit. The charity has worked closely with the Charity Commission, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and SNR Denton to modernise its remit and develop flexibility, in order to be able to help our present and potential beneficiaries through challenges they may face in the coming years.

Traditionally the charity has raised money through BBC Appeals and an extremely loyal donor base which has been built on the back of these appeals. Over the years our money has been reinvested to produce dividends which fund the charity’s work. Approaches have only been made once a year, which helps to retain the loyalty of donors.  To develop the Charity further more income will be needed, and a more diverse fundraising approach needs to be developed. This will include development and retention of donors; an increase in legacy giving; corporate donations, and fundraising from trusts to name but a few. The Fundraiser’s aim will be to bring more balance to the Charity’s income, develop a long-term relationship with a trust to fund the Charity’s work in the future, and fund present work and initiatives.

Some initial work has been done in approaches to trusts, redevelopment of our funding appeal newsletter, and creating a new website and brand. This will provide a platform for the Charity to develop its work and we are now looking for the right candidate to take on this challenging role.


The Role

The purpose of the role of Fundraiser, reporting to the Chief Executive, is to help shape the organisation’s fundraising strategy and to lead on its delivery. The Fundraiser will be required to build on his or her existing broad fundraising experience, using this to take the charity to the next level as we expand our activities and raise our profile. One of the measures of success in the role will be the establishment of a solid fundraising base, providing a long-term legacy allowing the charity to continue and develop its work for the next 70 years.

This is a challenging and wide-ranging post. Candidates should:

·         Be able to cultivate relationships used to develop funding streams;

·         Be able to develop and deliver care and support for funders;

·         Have a proven track record of delivering financial targets;

Strong written communication skills are essential to success in this role, in order to support the charity’s fundraising through websites and social media, and to develop of publications and fundraising materials.

The successful candidate must have excellent written and organisational skills. They must also possess the ability to communicate confidently and sensitively with a wide range of people at all levels. They will be a team player who can work flexibly and to deadlines.



  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills; strongly numerate;
  • Experience of applying to and securing funding from trust and grant funding bodies, with knowledge of resources, research, and approaches;
  • Revenue and capital fundraising experience;
  • Ability to research and develop budgets;
  • Experience of new donor and legacy development;
  • Experience of agreeing on targets and taking responsibility to deliver them;
  • Successful use of social media platforms within fundraising;
  • Knowledge of website development and maintenance; some HTML programming skills would be useful;
  • Well-organised and flexible with strong IT skills;
  • Results-focused, creative, enthusiastic and self-motivated, with the ability to work independently to achieve goals.

Press release: BBC builds new digital transmitters aimed at car radios

Today, WaveLength received a round-up of activity from DRUK (Digital Radio UK), with information about the growing popularity of digital radio (otherwise known as DAB).

Consumer watchdog Ofcom has released a report on digital radio in its capacity as chair of a DAB coverage and spectrum planning group. Meanwhile, surveys show that DAB car radios have become increasingly popular, especially among motorists. Some 50% of motorists say they would not buy a new car without a digital radio. These results encourage involved parties to press on with replicating the old FM coverage areas with DAB capability. In fact, the BBC has pledged to bring DAB signal to 97% of the area of the UK – and claims that coverage now stands at 93% following the construction of 117 new transmitters.

Widespread access to the latest radio technologies is, of course, a good thing. At WaveLength, beneficiaries often tell us how their radio sets have changed their lives. They feel that they have company when they listen to their favourite programmes before they go to bed at night, and as soon as they get up each morning. At WaveLength, we’re thrilled at the wide range of stations and high quality of original programming which DAB signal provides.

However, DAB conversion still poses problems. For one thing, we find it hard to square the massive investment which the tax-funded BBC is putting into digital transmitters at a time of national cuts. A large part of this financial burden should be falling on the commercial stations and manufacturers who stand to profit at least as much as the BBC from digital radio adoption, as our CEO, Tim Leech, and other members of the Consumer Expert Group, have emphasised in the past.

We also encourage digital radio providers to focus not only on the relatively young, highly mobile people who install DAB radios in their cars, but also the elderly, ill and isolated people who love their radios, but are easily confused by change. Because WaveLength speaks actively on digital policy, has strong connections with the BBC, and our CEO, Tim Leech, has testified on the issue to the House of Lords, we’re kept in the loop about new developments. But far too many elderly or isolated people are still confused about the issue of digital radio. Even the different shapes of the radios – pressing buttons rather than turning dials – can be incredibly confusing to the very elderly or those suffering from dementia.

For some reason, digital radio is not getting the same amount of publicity as digital TV, leaving many confused about their options. All parties concerned should be doing everything possible to ensure that everybody in the UK not only has access to DAB coverage, but can afford the equipment and has information and advice about the process.

Read our April newsletter!

Mum and daughter bondingThis April, we’ve survived London’s digital switchover, launched a cross-nation appeal to put TVs and radios in women’s refuges, and gained a new fluffy bunny supporter! Our month’s round-up of activity.

April has been a busy month for us here at WaveLength. As a national TV charity, the digital TV switchover had a huge impact on what we do. Many of our beneficiaries live in London, so when the capital turned off analogue on the 4th and 18th April, we had a lot of phone calls and emails from people confused at the changes. Thankfully, these have subsided now as we were able to help a lot of people to get their TV service.

Remember though, if you’re a beneficiary and you do need help with your TV or radio function, WaveLength is happy to act as first port of call.

But April wasn’t all about the digital switchover. We also welcomed a new social media volunteer, Louisa, a carer for vulnerable people with physical or mental health difficulties. Louisa introduces herself here. She’s been tweeting away for us brilliantly – a bit thank you to Louisa, and to our other volunteers from this year, Emma, Thursa, Abigail, James and Clare!

April also saw productive meetings with the Consumer Expert Group, where Tim discussed the future of access to digital radio, and with our chairman Stephen Derrick, who’s beavering away on the BBC’s iPlayer listen-again service! Did you know that you can get iPlayer on some TVs, even if you don’t have a computer? Advice here. Meanwhile, our animal supporters have been putting smiles on a lot of faces, as you can see. Bella the rabbit is our newest supporter, but it’s too soon to tell if she can win more hearts than Stanley the dog or Mutz the cat!

On a more serious note, April saw the launch of our women’s aid campaign. We want to raise enough money to repeat our highly successful trial project of installing TVs and radios in three women’s refuges, across the country. To read more about the brutal systematic isolation suffered by victims of domestic abuse, go here. To donate to WaveLength – which helps victims of domestic abuse and torture, as well as the elderly and long-term sick or disabled – you can use the postal methods outlined on our ‘Make a Donation’ page, or do it in a couple of clicks at http://www.justgiving.com/wavel. Plus, we’re signed up to a new seamless giving service on Twitter, www.giv2.it, so if you already have a JustGiving account, you can easily enable giv2 to make donations just by tweeting to our name, @WaveLengthTV, with the amount you want to give and the hashtag #giv2

At WaveLength, we love to hear from you. So if you want to share news or feedback, do get in touch with the contact details from this website, an email to ed@wavelength.org.uk, or by searching for ‘WaveLength Charity’ on Facebook or Twitter.

Libraries or e-books?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs Microsoft spends $300m on Barnes & Noble’s e-books, Tim’s still singing the praises of libraries…

‘Maybe I’m old-fashioned. But the first thing that occurred to me when I saw the news of Microsoft’s new stake in Barnes & Noble’s e-reader was – what about libraries?

‘Many people find e-readers invaluable, giving them access to devices which are lighter to carry than books. The ability to turn a book to large print on the screen is certainly very useful to those with sight difficulties. It isn’t hard to see why Microsoft has invested in Barnes & Noble to create a subsidiary for the American bookstore’s e-reader devices, and I’m sure many will be thrilled at the news that the Nook will be coming to the UK, bringing in someone new to compete with Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad.

‘But many people are cut off from these devices by their high prices. Others, especially older people, are just not comfortable with using electronic devices so regularly. Meanwhile, the UK’s libraries provide a fairly similar service – access to a very wide range of books – without customers needing to pay a penny. And many of them offer CDs, DVDs, tapes and videos as well as books.

‘During cuts over the last few years, libraries have often been the first to suffer. But what funds they have, they often spend on community initiatives, such as the partnership WaveLength started with Cambridge council to provide CD players from us and CDs from them on a door-to-door basis, or the wonderful Calibre service which provides audio books suitable both for those with sight difficulties, and those with learning or cognitive difficulties such as dyslexia or dyspraxia. Many councils run mobile libraries driven from street to street in vans, for those who can’t face the journey into town.

‘With all this on offer, we were surprised when our latest survey showed very few of our beneficiaries – even those mobile enough to use public transport – used libraries on a regular basis. Libraries are underfunded and underpublicized, but offer much more equal access to users. They cater for all income levels and for many different access needs; and when there’s a problem, a staff member is far more helpful than a computer company’s instruction manual!

‘So let’s remember that as exciting as new technology is, the importance of access to these new technologies – whether that’s e-readers, laptops or digital TVs – can never be underestimated.’

Bella The Rabbit – WaveLength’s Newest Supporter!

You’ve seen Stanley the dog and Mutz the cat… now Bella hits the small screen! There are plenty of people helping out animals, but at WaveLength, our animal supporters want to help keep lonely and vulnerable people comfortable. Watching Bella is fun. If you want to help the elderly, sick, disabled or abused to stay entertained, positive and connected, visit our charity’s website at www.wavelength.org.uk

Continue reading…

Find out why our volunteer, Louisa, decided to support WaveLength

Louisa_richardson_volunteerLouisa: ‘I’ve worked in health and social care for several years now and see regularly the devastating effects of social isolation on the vulnerable adults I support. For many people I work with or have worked with a radio or television is often the only friend or company they have.’

She continues: ‘For clients I have worked with who have been effected by mental health issues having access to a radio is an invaluable coping strategy. It’s an absolute pleasure to give my support to Wavelength and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to make a positive difference in people’s lives.’

Jeremy Hunt in palm of News Corp? Our CEO’s take on today’s Leveson allegations

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATim Leech gives an opinion on the calls for Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to resign. As head of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Mr Hunt often works on committees participated in by WaveLength

The Leveson inquiry today brings up some unpleasant allegations directed at Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Some claim Mr Hunt worked too closely with News Corp executives, lending support to their takeover of BSkyB at a time when many in the sector voiced concern over such an important service becoming concentrated in the hands of one company.

Tim says: “We don’t yet know the truth of these allegations, but at WaveLength the news concerns us on behalf of the isolated, housebound and often impoverished people who we represent. Listening to business interests is important, but for a public servant, listening to public interests should be paramount.

“News Corp’s proposed BSkyB takeover is controversial because it threatens the competition which provides the public with a range of services at a range of prices. I sat on committees with Mr Hunt to discuss the UK’s TV Digital Switchover. One of my main concerns then was that people who cannot afford digital equipment, or find it difficult to operate, should not face a situation where they have no other option. As the UK dives back into a double-dip recession today, this concern is even more important. A pay-to-view station should not be able to form a monopoly on TV viewing.

“Currently, we are discussing a potential switchover to digital radio – and along with the Consumer Expert Group which we’re a part of, we’re keen to make sure that a switchover doesn’t impact on the public’s ability to ensure choice and quality, and doesn’t harm those who are unaware of, distrust or are unable to afford digital radio. We feel that important decisions should reflect a consensus among the public.

“In this country we have a great tradition, of providing low-cost and accessible TV and radio media. At WaveLength we know how much of a lifeline this access can be for Britain’s most vulnerable people. With the Olympics coming up, it’s important that Britain shows its public servants are listening to the public.”

Mr Hunt is expected to give a statement on the matter to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Women’s Aid Centres: Our Trial Project and Call for Funding

thumbnail_01Two years ago, WaveLength supplied three women’s centres with TVs, radios and DVD players. Since then, 730 people have used these resources to get them through traumatic periods of their lives. Now we’re asking for more donations to extend the project across the UK.

Choosing what you want to watch on TV is a choice that most of us take for granted: but for people who’ve been encouraged to believe that they have no agency and no power over their own lives, it’s a big step towards independence and confidence. TVs, radios and DVD libraries in women’s centres helps women and children made homeless by abuse to stay in contact with the outside world, develop companionship through communal viewing, and enjoy the comfort of a regular family schedule. The donations also send a clear message: that domestic abuse is intolerable and wrong.

That’s why WaveLength donated equipment to three UK women’s centres – and that’s why we’re now asking donors to help us help more incredibly brave domestic violence victims across the UK to move forwards with their lives.

“Knowing that there is someone out there, giving TVs like that, to help mothers like me, meant the world” – Kelly, Liverpool, mother of three

Why Women’s Aid?

WaveLength constantly assesses changes in the social and economic landscape to provide contact, comfort and companionship for people who are lonely and vulnerable. The TVs and radios we supply can be a lifeline to beneficiaries  who are elderly, disabled, suffering from chronic illness, or otherwise isolated, providing a vital link to the outside world.

In 2009, we launched a six-month trial project which diverges from our traditional model of donating TVs and radios to individuals. During that year, we received a number of applications for TVs from women’s refuges. We were being asked to help a whole community of extremely vulnerable people. Refuge workers told us that abusers often systematically isolate their victims from local communities, meaning that leaving their abusers to go to a women’s refuge is an enormously brave step. To build up new lives for themselves and their children, they need to feel welcomed and ‘at home’ in the centres.

Research showed us that well over 19,000 women lived full-time in refuges in 2009, as they struggled to start a new life away from abusive partners. Living with them were more than 21,000 children. The UK has around 1000 women’s refuges, but these are losing funding fast.

When Centre 56, a Liverpool refuge, invited WaveLength to come and see the work it does, we were excited to learn about the range of services provides including counselling, childcare, and access to social workers. Tragically, many of these facilities are being cut, under the pressure of local authority funding withdrawals.

With these financial pressures, it’s not surprising that the TV facilities within centres are often poor quality or non-existent. For instance, the TV donated to one centre by a local racecourse could only receive one channel. We were also surprised to learn that women’s aid centres are not supported by Digital UK’s Help Scheme, which helps those on low incomes to switchover to digital TV. WaveLength is proud to free up funds for these centres by providing vital support equipment.

TVs remind residents that they are part of a community, and gives a home-like atmosphere to refuges. While watching TV, residents terrorised by domestic violence can reassert a structured family schedule, gain a window to the outside world, and socialise with one another and with their children.

Now, we’re asking for more donations and more awareness to create a long-term equipment funding programme for women’s centres across the UK. Please read on for more information.

“By making this donation the Charity is not just trying to offer practical help but is adding its voice to condemn domestic violence in whatever form.  I personally believe we all have to say that such crimes are not acceptable and by keeping quiet we add to the problems.” – Tim Leech, WaveLength CEO


How Do We Help?

Our trial project supplied three women’s aid centres – Torfaen Women’s Aid Centre, Centre 56, Liverpool, and Wrexham Women’s Aid Centre – with some combination of:

  • 19” wall-mounted digital TVs for individual rooms
  • large-screen wall-mounted digital TVs for communal areas
  • DVD players, radios and radio cassette players
  • a small DVD library

We were proud to help 278 women and children during the first six months of the project. In the three years since then, our TVs, radios and DVD libraries have supported around 730 people passing through the centres as they move forward from a traumatic situation and into independence. These are fantastic figures, and incidentally show that this project helped more people, with less money, than our usual method of donating to individuals.

However, cost benefit is secondary to the importance of helping women and children to feel safe, secure and in contact with their communities at a diffcult time in their lives. WaveLength was thrilled to hear feedback from staff and residents.

Kelly, a mother of two, fled her violent partner and entered a Liverpool hostel while pregnant with a third child:

“Leaving our home and going to a refuge was really scary. I was petrified that there would be fights and that the refuge would be full of drunks. Going to Centre 56 was brilliant though. The boys settled in really easily, having the TV made it a real home for them. I can’t tell you what bliss it was to have the kids settled, just heaven. Once the kids were asleep I could watch films to help me unwind, or sometimes Eastenders on the later repeats.

“Sometimes in the day, the kids would watch CBBC in the main lounge with the other kids. It was good for them to play with the other kids and it meant that I could get on with jobs like the washing and cleaning our room, it was a big, big help.”

Other residents told us that:

“Having a TV in my room allows me my own space and lets me watch what I want. When you’re lonely or when you need time to yourself the TV is company.”

“Staying in a refuge can be difficult at times – sometimes you want to mix sometimes you want to be alone, but this can also be isolating. I cannot imagine living here without the company of the TV you have provided. Thank you.”

“I think it would be difficult at bedtime with my little boy as the TV settles him before he goes to sleep.”

Refuge staff reinforce what these women say: the TVs provide an element of distraction and reassurance to hectic lives, and make centres seem home-like and welcoming.

In addition, refuge staff tell WaveLength that our equipment serves many other more specific needs. For example:

  • Installed in interview rooms, TVs and radios relax women and children as they speak with social workers and police.
  • TVs give the opportunity for positive parenting lessonsduring communal activities such as family film nights.
  • One centre told WaveLength that watching the 2010 World Cup live indulged a family pastime without accompanying family violence, helping young people to break the cycle of domestic abuse.

In addition, WaveLength supported the refuges in approaching other funders, including joint press releases and our database of contacts. This added support helped two refuges to refurbish out-of-date facilities.


What Next?

The trial project was extremely successful, and just three years later, the TVs, radios and DVD players we installed have helped 730 vulnerable people move forward through a transitional phase in their lives.

We’re proud to support women’s centres’ aim of creating a hospitable and supportive first step towards a full independent life. When we improve people’s social, cultural and information links, we help them to move forwards without becoming reliant on support. Everybody at WaveLength is passionate about meeting this need.

In addition, this project raises awareness of the vital services which women’s centres provide, in a climate where many centres lose funding. Here are some statistics:

  • Just 60% of people appealing to the state for help escaping a violent partner found shelter in refuges in 2009.
  • Centres run by the UK’s largest umbrella organisation for domestic violence victims, Women’s Aid, turn away 230 desperate women every day.
  • Smaller centres which receive less than £20,000 in total funding (often those serving ethnic minority victims of domestic violence) have had 70% of that funding cut since 2010.
  • As local authorities across the UK have cut an average of 40% of funding to centres since 2009, workers are struggling to keep beds available.

One of the beneficiaries of our trial project, Centre 56 in Liverpool, is struggling desperately to stay open after losing all of its funding from Liverpool Council. In Liverpool, domestic violence is behind one in four visits to hospital by women, is the main cause ofhomelessness, and affects by half of all children in care. This situation is unacceptable. Donating to these struggling centres supports one of WaveLength’s core focusses: representing and amplifying the voices of those whose isolation makes it hard for them to speak out for themselves.

Practically, receiving our free equipment can have a real impact on stark facilities. We want to take advantage of the UK’s digital switchover to help women in these centres to maintain links with their communities through the improved digital services now available.

WaveLength wants to find enough funding to support a long-term scheme extended to many more women’s centres across the UK. If we reach our goal, we’ll help these amazing places free up money to keep beds and staff available.

That’s why we’re now calling for more donations, more support, and more awareness-raising. Please help us reach our goal of providing much-needed companionship, comfort and contact tools to women and children fleeing abuse.

Is 15 minutes enough? Our new campaign for home carers and those who they help

womanwithhatCarers get their 15 minutes of fame on our social media channels

Is fifteen minutes enough? New study shows home visitor carers for elderly people only get 15 minutes per client for washing, changing, feeding and chatting. At WaveLength we know that carers do an amazing job to relieve loneliness among elderly or chronically ill people – so we want to give carers their own 15 minutes of fame.

Are you a carer? Have you been helped by a carer, or know somebody who has? Tweet your experiences with the #15minutes hashtag, or send a video to ed@wavelength.org.uk, and it could get shown on our YouTube channel.

Carers’ work doesn’t get praised enough. As the latest study shows, many carers are illegally paid less than the minimum wage. Help us to give them their 15 minutes of recognition – and to let the world know that 15 minutes’ company per day is not enough for an isolated person..

– To donate to WaveLength, use JustGiving http://www.justgiving.com/wavel, or post us a cheque or bank draft.

Disabled cut off from consumer websites

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany popular websites fail to cater for disabled people’s access needs. Our CEO, Tim Leech, puts this problem in perspective as a dyslexic web user.

“Out of the UK’s top five price comparison sites, four score one star for disabled accessibility and one scores two stars, says AbilityNet, using a scale in which three stars indicates ‘a base level of usability.’ ComparetheMarket.comConfused.comGocompare.com, mySupermarket and Kelkoo all fail to provide an inclusive service for consumers. Even with screen readers and voice recognition, people with visual impairments, dyslexia or cognitive conditions struggle to ‘read’ websites not designed for them. Author Terry Pratchett, an early-stage Alzheimers sufferer, chimes in on the Guardian website to voice his own frustration with using these sites with voice recognition software. As a severely dyslexic person, I also have a personal story to tell.

“The other day, my stepson used one of the most popular insurance comparison sites to get a quote for his new car. Proud of the new driver in the family, I wanted to help him out with the knowledge that comes from years of car ownership. But because of a badly designed site, he had to read everything out to me, making the whole process take much longer than it should have done. If I lived alone, like many of our beneficiaries, this problem would make it near-impossible for me to use these sites, cutting me off from the best deals. With cuts to Disability Living Allowance and other services also in place, it’s a terrible shame to exclude people already at a disadvantage from these useful consumer resources.

“In this day and age, websites should be prepared to cater for everyone. Until they do, WaveLength can’t support internet provision as a catch-all solution for people who find it hard to get out of the house. We’ll keep campaigning with all our strength for real social inclusion of disabled, older and vulnerable people.”

Digital radio conversion – any progress? Our CEO Tim Leech speaks out

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATim meets with the Consumer Expert Group to discuss progress on radio digital switchover – and finds a lack of benefit analysis

Tim: “On Tuesday, I came away from a meeting of the Consumer Expert Group (CEG) without much feeling of progress on the planned switchover of the UK’s radio stations from analogue to digital. As an association dedicated to consumer rights, the CEG needs to see an analysis of the cost benefit involved in a digital radio switchover. Although the Digital Switchover for TV is almost complete, the CEG is uncertain about the benefits of a switch to digital radio, which is currently used by less than 30% of the UK population.

“WaveLength and our friends at CEG have made a recommendation to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, that around 75% of the UK population should have voluntarily switched to digital radio, through DAB devices, internet, connected TV or smart phones, before the analogue service is removed. But the pressure group representing these commercial radio stations and the BBC, Digital Radio UK, wants to make the switch as soon as penetration hits 50%. And with a cost to the switchover of up to £21 million, Digital Radio UK is asking the government to contribute an unspecified proportion of the funding needed.

“As the digital TV switchover is being achieved at no cost to the taxpayer, the CEG is asking why the government should shoulder the cost of a switch to radio – and at the Tuesday meeting, I realised that we’re no closer to getting an answer. At WaveLength, we think that the type of radio station you listen to should be up to you. We’re not keen to remove consumers’ access to a range of radio choices, in order to cut costs to radio stations.

“The CEG and WaveLength are behind digital radio for those who want it, and have seen how much comfort it can bring to our lonely and isolated beneficiaries. But we need a solid set of regulations, and a proper analysis of the costs and social benefits involved, before I or WaveLength can support a nationwide switchover. At the moment, this information still seems far off.”

Press release: New study shows 19,000 domestic violence victims flee homes every year

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANew London Metropolitan study reveals 19,000 women ask English authorities for refuge from domestic violence in 2009. Help WaveLength equip the centres they go to.

Press release: New study shows 19,000 domestic violence victims flee homes every year

 Today, WaveLength is sad to hear how many domestic violence victims turn to the state for refuge. During our trial women’s aid centre project in 2009, we knew that 16,570 women were living in refuges in England[1]. Today, a London Metropolitan University study discussed at the British Sociological Association conference shows that 19,000 women fleeing violent partners asked the state to rehouse them in the year 2008-2009. More than 9,000 women took children with them.

Our 2009 trial project – which we hope to continue as a long-term commitment – provided TVs and radios for women’s aid centres in Liverpool and Wales. We’ve been told that this equipment helps to foster an atmosphere of normality and community at a very difficult time. For many victims of domestic violence, who have been systematically isolated for years, entering a refuge is the first step towards rejoining a community. A TV provides a window to the outside world, a chance to socialise with other women and children, and to build structure into family life.

Kelly, a mother of two, says: “The boys are used to watching TV at night before they go to bed and having the TV made it a real home for them. I can’t tell you what bliss it was to have the kids settled, just heaven. Sometimes in the day, the kids would watch CBBC in the main lounge with the other kids. It was good for them to play with the other kids and it meant that I could get on with jobs like the washing and cleaning our room. It was a big, big help.”

Sadly, today’s study also shows that only 60% of those applying for help secured accommodation at women’s residences. Since 2009, local authority cuts have led 40% of UK refuges to lay off staff and shut down beds, forcing them to turn away 230 desperate women every day. If we succeed in finding enough funding to support a full long-term scheme, we’ll help these amazing centres to free up money to keep staff employed and beds available. Please help us reach our goal of providing much-needed companionship, comfort and contact tools for centres across the UK, through donations or raising awareness.


[1] Estimated figures from 2008/9, provided by Women’s Aid. Extrapolated from 75% response rate to annual questionnaire, with 75% response rate.

Calling all Tweeters! Social Media Volunteers wanted

Are you a social media animal? Do you love tweeting, sharing and pinning? Then we need you!

We are looking for social media volunteers who will tweet and share our posts on a regular basis, all from the comfort from their own homes. If it sounds like you, get in touch!

In the meantime, check out our Facebook Pagewww.facebook.com/Wavelength.Charity

and Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/WaveLengthHelp


Contact: Ela Vine, ela.vine@wavelength.org.uk, tel. 01708621101

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Read what our new volunteer, Emma, said about us

Emma: I love what you do I think its amazing and so sweet. It’s something you don’t really think about. It’s great that you help out those who are lonely or isolated by reconnecting them with the world.’

Emma is our Social Media Volunteer and helps us to spread the word about our work.

Press release: The Budget 2012, ‘granny tax’ and its impact on the third sector organisations

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWaveLength warns that the changes introduced to age-related allowances in the Budget 2012 will impact negatively on charities providing services to older people.

Pensioners could lose up to £260 a year in income tax allowances, which the charity fears could make more pensioners struggling financially.

Tim Leech, The CEO of WaveLength, said: ‘The austerity measures means that we are already experiencing increase in applications for help for elderly and disabled people. The freeze of income tax allowance for people over 65 could result in more people needing our help. However, charities like WaveLength that are funded mainly from donations from individuals, are already being hit by decreasing donations, as family incomes are being squeezed. The so called ‘granny tax’, will affect a large percentage of our donors, which could mean that they might not be able to donate to charities like ours anymore. We fear that when help for the most vulnerable people in our society will be needed most, third sector organisations might not be able to deliver it’.

WaveLength is a national charity providing free radios and televisions to elderly, disabled, mentally and chronically ill people living in poverty.

Our new volunteer, Thursa

Find out why Thursa decided to volunteer for WaveLength.

‘My name is Thursa and I’m a freelance copy-editor and proofreader. I decided to look into volunteering in my area of expertise and came across WaveLength online. I was extremely impressed by the charity’s history and by the simplicity of their vision; it’s so easy to take for granted the comfort a television or radio can bring when we’re feeling low. I know from experience how much my nan appreciated her nature programmes and classical music after she was widowed. I look forward to doing what I can to help.’

Meet our new volunteer, Abigail

When we have asked Abigail why she decided to volunteer for us she replied: ‘I’ve been looking for the right ‘voluntary’ role for a while. I’m a stay-at-home Mum of one with limited free time but I’ve been keen to do some voluntary work for a while’.

‘ When I saw WaveLenght’s call for volunteer proof readers and copy-editors, couldn’t believe my luck. It was just right for me! Proof reading and copy-editing was part of my pre-Mummy role working in marketing communications for a large not-for-profit organisation. I saw a natural fit with my skill set.

I was really pleased to learn more about WaveLength from their website. I have several relatives who are housebound and could be described as isolated from society so it made me really excited to think that I might be able to help other people in a similar situation, albeit in a small way. I’m looking forward to working with WaveLength. Here’s hoping I can help! ‘

Meet James, our new volunteer

james_watson_volunteerWaveLength has a new volunteer, James, who writes below why he decided to volunteer for us.

James: ‘I currently work on an Information Technology customer Helpdesk, with specific responsibilities for writing the “Knowledgebase” documentation that the technicians use to troubleshoot customer problems, so I feel I’ve got good writing and literacy skills, paying particular care to write for the intended audience. This is particularly important in my area of computing where most end-users are not technically-minded and may well not understand terms like “reboot the machine”, or know their RAM from their ROM, for example.

I’d been looking for ways to “do my bit” and give something back to society for some time now, and stumbled across WaveLength’s request for proof readers whilst browsing volunteer opportunities online. What I liked about the role was that I could fit in the work as it suited me… something that was important, as I’ve just become a Father for the first time to my beautiful daughter Evie… along with the very nature of their work. Having been stuck at home alone for weeks during a long-term illness a few years ago, I can’t imagine not having a radio to listen to, just to simply hear another human voice, and so applaud the good work they do in giving those less able the means to tune back into life again’.

Everyone at WaveLength wants to congratulate James on the birth of his beautiful daughter and looks forward to working with him.

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Our new volunteer Clare

We welcome a new volunteer on board, Clare. Clare will help us with copy-editing. Read what Clare says about herself and why she chose to volunteer for us.

‘After leaving school, I read Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University.  But, only three years after graduating and working as a vet, I was diagnosed with and treated for a brain tumour. This left me disabled and unable to continue with veterinary work, so I retrained as a proofreader and copy-editor, so that I could work online from home. I worked for several publishing companies and charities for some years. However, as time went by, work became harder and harder to find, and I decided earlier this year to concentrate on volunteer copy-editing work for charities. So I added my name to an online list of professionals offering their services to charities as volunteers. And recently, I was contacted by WaveLength, which asked for my help. As I wasn’t familiar with the charity, I read through the website before agreeing to help. And I’m pleased to say that I was very impressed by the work of the charity, and was very happy to help them as a volunteer copy-editor, which I’ll be doing in the future’.

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Interview with Andy Cato

Wavelength and Andy Cato

WaveLength: Music is a powerful communicator. What do you think about the idea of a charity developing a theme tune as part of its identity?

Andy Cato: Music can often say a lot more than words. It can transform people’s mood, and, through association, can define whole periods of your life. So, for people trying to set a tone, communicate a message and set themselves apart, it makes a lot of sense to put music at the heart of that.

WL: Why have you picked this particular piece for us? What resonates about it for you?

AC: It was actually based on an idea that I’ve had on the go for a long time. When I came across it again, there was the basis of a track which seemed to have the right spirit — it had a hopefulness about it. To that, it was a question of adding a melody that was simple enough to be emblematic in a short space of time.

WL: As a musician what do you feel the role that music/the arts can play in helping people who are lonely and isolated?

AC: It’s been said before, but music is the universal language. It can communicate between people who find it difficult, it can console, it can lift you up when you’re down, it can create a whole world of escape.

WL: You are well known not just as a musician, composer and producer, but also as a concerned voice on global warming and environmental change. What are the key ethical factors that motivate you?

AC: It’s clearly not sustainable for the whole world to live like we do in the west. Everybody knows that, but a lot of monied interests will lobby to deny it for as long as possible and are doing so very successfully. So, it feels like being trapped in a slow motion train crash. But I’ve been in more airports in the last few years than most people will see in their lives and you can’t live a sustainable life that’s on the move like that. So, rather than sound off from the seat of an aeroplane, I should put my own house in order first.

WL: What motivates your interest in global warming? How did you get interested in the environment?

AC: I did a lot of reading and blogging around Copenhagen1. Before that, I had no idea of the extent of the state we’re in. It came at the same time that I moved to the middle of nowhere and started trying to feed myself2. Then you realise that all our big cities and neon lights are based on 6 inches of topsoil and it put things in perspective. I also began to see what agribusiness is doing to that soil and to the food we eat. Ethically, it’s right up there with the oil industry.

WL: Are there any current environmental issues you feel are being dropped off the agenda?

AC: We’re quietly following a path of urbanisation, resource extraction, soil erosion, emissions and ‘growth’ which, whilst it can only end in tears, is successfully being presented as the only option. None of that is on the front page agenda.

WL: How is your ethical stance on the environment mirrored in your support for us at WaveLength?

AC: I’m in a very lucky position which allows me to spend a bit of time to speak to the people I’ve met over the years, to try and help out where I can. A lot of these problems are so overwhelming that it’s nice to get beyond being a cog in a wheel and try to make a specific difference to a charity, like WaveLength, which has a direct impact on people’s everyday lives.

WL: As a charity we focus on people who are isolated and, as a way of trying to lift that isolation, we understand access to music, entertainment, drama, news, and education through technology can be a great help. What is it about WaveLength’s work that you find particularly attractive?

AC: I like the focus on the positive aspects of technology — freedom and information. That’s what it should be about.

WL: Despite the current economic difficulties, popular music in the UK appears to be a lot less political or willing to make a social comment than in, say, the 1980s. Would you agree with this and what role do you think musicians can play in bringing social issues to a wider audience?

AC: I completely agree with this. It’s hard to believe that a small group of people rode Sunseekers and drank champagne for a decade, then persuaded the working man to pay the bill, all without a shot being fired. But then, I didn’t man the barricades, nor did I write the protest songs. On the music front at least I’m trying to put that right and have formed a new band, Days Of May, in which I sing for the first time and can deal with some of these frustrations in writing, along with a few lost loves. Whether anyone will listen — I’ll find out in a couple of months.

WL: Thank you very much.


1 Copenhagen 2009, Climate Conference in Copenhagen, 6-18 December 2009.

2 Growing his own crops.

Andy Cato creates first theme tune for UK charity

The new theme tune has been generously donated by Andy Cato, of Groove Armada fame. This is available as a free ringtone that can be downloaded from WaveLength’s new website, which has also recently been launched.

Andy Cato creates first theme tune for UK charity

WaveLength — the UK charity that provides elderly, disabled and socially isolated people with radios and televisions — is the first UK charity to have its own dedicated theme tune.

The new theme tune has been generously donated by Andy Cato, of Groove Armada fame. This is available as a free ringtone that can be downloaded from WaveLength’s new website, which has also recently been launched.

The inspiration for the theme tune, as Andy Cato explains: “was actually based on an idea that I’ve had for a long time. When I came across it again there was the basis of a track that seemed to have the right spirit — that conveyed a sense of hopefulness. It was then a question of adding a melody, which has the potential to be emblematic in a short space of time.”

Commenting on the new ringtone and website, Tim Leech, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Since the charity’s inception it has been dedicated to reducing isolation and loneliness, which we achieve by providing radios and televisions to those with limited means, and so it is entirely appropriate that we now have an audible signature that will help to reinforce the work of the charity and we’re extremely grateful to Andy Cato for providing this. I am also delighted with the new website, which provides information on all aspects of our work and shows how people can get involved.”

The ringtone is available on WaveLength’s new website: www.wavelength.org.uk.


Issued by:

Simon Turton

Opera Public Relations

T: 0845 060 0650

M: 07976 826004

E: simon@operapr.com



The charity was established in 1939 as a society that would provide the bedridden with wirelesses (the Greater London Society Providing Wirelesses for the Bedridden), which was formed by a partnership with the BBC and The Rotary Club.

After being mothballed for the duration of the second world war the charity re-emerged in 1946 and become known as the Wireless for the Bedridden Society.

In 2010 the charity was re-named as WaveLength, but despite this name change the objective of the charity has remained focused on working towards eliminating loneliness and isolation in society.

For anyone wanting to donate the charity now has the ability to receive monies via text message by sending “WAVE22 £amount” to 70070.

For more information contact Simon Turton at Opera PR on 0845 060 0650 or visit: www.wavelength.org.uk.


Andy Cato was born in 1972, grew up near Barnsley and from an early age was exposed to jazz and blues by his father, who introduced him to the piano and trombone.

In 1988, caught up in the dawn of the house music movement, he swapped the blues for white labels and turntables. He moved to London, set up Skinnymalinky records and, after years on the road between the UK’s dancefloors, had just signed his band (Beat  Foundation) to Virgin when he met up with Tom Findllay.

A week in a Clapham flat later, At The River was being cut onto 7”, Groove Armada was born and the Virgin deal was dropped. Since then, Andy has written ten years’ worth of Groove Armada anthems, headlined festivals and DJ’d all over the world. After 2010’s Grammy-nominated Black Light, 2011 sees another Groove Armada reinvention: Redlight — a return to the warehouse sound where it all started.

Their Lovebox festival, now a 60,000 person weekend, will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2012.

Andy Cato has over 40 releases, 52 remixes and 9 albums to his name.

For more information visit: www.GrooveArmada.com

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