Free DAB radios offered to elderly to reduce loneliness during coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 March 2020

Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto


The BBC is teaming up with manufacturers, retailers and a loneliness charity to offer free DAB radios to the most vulnerable people aged over 70.

It comes as millions of people are forced to stay in their homes and isolate from their friends and families because of the coronavirus outbreak.

It will be giving away DAB digital radios to people nominated by Local Radio listeners as part of the BBC’s Make a Difference campaign launched in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

It is running across all 39 BBC Local Radio stations in England, including BBC Radio Devon, and is aimed at connecting communities.

People can nominate a vulnerable person over the age of 70 for a free radio from Monday by completing an application form at www.wavelength/radiohero

The radios have been donated by Argos, Currys PC World, John Lewis and Partners, Pure and Roberts Radio and will be distributed by loneliness charity Wavelength, who provide technology to those in need. Manufacturer Duracell UK will provide batteries.

Tony Hall, the Director-General of the BBC, said: “Local Radio is a lifeline at this time and has never been more important as a source of trusted local news and information, and also as a companion for people who are isolating. Make A Difference is already having a huge impact right across the country with 28,000 thousand calls in just five days. It is offering support and practical solutions to people who have nowhere else to turn.

“We want everyone who needs access to the radio to have it, that’s why we’re giving away DAB radios. I’m proud we’ve been able to coordinate this initiative with our partners who have been so generous in offering their resources.”

Research commissioned in 2012 for World Radio Day by digital radio brand Pure showed on average one in four people go days without speaking to anyone.

With new restrictions on leaving the home and new rules around social distancing, that figure will rise with older people the most affected.

Make a Difference is a coordinated campaign run across all of 39 BBC Local Radio stations in England. It aims to work as a virtual community notice board, linking together those who want to give help with those in need. Since it started, the BBC’s Local Radio stations have been receiving more than 8,000 calls a day from members of the public.

Further details of the free DAB radio scheme can be found at

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