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The V&V partnership has supported Gateway978 community radio to reach out to, and work with, more young people during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Gateway978 is a volunteer run, community radio station in Basildon. The station runs a radio club for young people to learn about editing, broadcasting, radio software, presenting, producing and team work.

The radio club successfully applied to the VVU Community Grant Fund and was awarded £9,000 to develop its work throughout lockdown. This has meant Gateway978 has been able to work with more young people and make the adaptions needed to be Covid-19 secure. For example, purchasing headsets and microphones and purchasing a new server so the young people can upload content from home. The server also means they can meet virtually every Wednesday for a wellbeing session – the chance to play games, chat and have some fun.

Terry, aged 14 said: “I struggle at school and have autism. Joining Gateway radio club has started to help me overcome shyness, improve myself and learn how to edit and give something back on a community radio station. What’s not to love!”

The group – usually about 30 young people – meet virtually on a Tuesday to plan out a radio programme and then over the week will pull this programme together for broadcast on the Saturday. All the young people try out every aspect of production, including running the radio desk and doing presenting.  For those who want to take their participation further, there is the opportunity to do an accredited media qualification, an opportunity that is open to more young people thanks to the VVU funding.

The radio club has been a huge success over lockdown with new people joining the group – this may be a self-referral or signposted (for example) by school or probation. The station’s listenership is up 40% during lockdown suggesting a thirst for community news and interest.

The young people have really welcomed the consistency of the club during lockdown; with the radio club helping them develop new skills, raise self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing, and improving emotional and mental health; while at the same time making a positive difference to the local community.

Tom, aged 15 said: “Joining Gateway was the turning point for me. I was thrown out of school and made bad choices. Music inspired me and Gateway helped me develop my skills that helped me move into music producing. I have played on Radio 1 Extra and have continued in what I want to do.”

For those who want to listen you can find the station on