WaveLength 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.’