BBC coronavirus helpline receives biggest response ever to Local Radio campaign

Simon Austin's picture
BBC Make a Difference

The BBC says more than 100,000 people have contacted its Local Radio’s coronavirus helpline since it was set up two weeks ago.

The Make a Difference campaign was launched to link up those in need of help with those who can provide it and it is already the biggest response the BBC has had to a Local Radio campaign.

Director General Tony Hall said: “The response of the British people in this difficult time has been phenomenal and we are glad to do our bit by helping people help each other.

“Millions of people are isolating but that doesn’t mean they have to feel isolated. That’s why from today you can nominate someone who is over 70 for a free DAB radio. We hope this will give some of society’s most vulnerable a constant companion.

“Local Radio is vital for keeping people connected and we want to reach as many people as possible. For those stuck at home my message is simple: Local Radio is there for you.”

Make a Difference has already helped get essential items to a terminally ill father of three, find a lift to work for an NHS worker whose car had broken down, and stopped a man from getting evicted from his home.

The campaign was launched on all 39 BBC Local Radio stations on March 17th and gives half-hourly updates on how the coronavirus is affecting the local area, offers advice and puts people who need help in touch with volunteers.

Since the campaign launched some stations have seen a 300% increase in calls.

Meanwhile, BBC England has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Community Media Association (CMA), an umbrella organisation for 300 community radio stations, which means they will be able to take BBC Local Radio content for free during the crisis.

And the BBC is partnering with loneliness charity Wavelength to give away thousands of radios to people over 70.