Grass­roots Radio on Coro­n­avirus — Report from Ire­land

The infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ty activ­i­ties relat­ed to Coro­n­avirus are keep­ing Grass­roots Radio mem­bers quite busy.

This is also the case for the Irish com­mu­ni­ty of Bere Island, which is doing every­thing to adopt mea­sures and behav­iors that can pro­tect local inhab­i­tants. This includes an appeal to vis­i­tors to stay away from the island. John Walsh – mem­ber of the Bere Island Projects Group (BIPG) that is part of the Grass­roots Radio project – said to the West Cork news­pa­per The South­ern Star: ‘We were con­cerned for vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ty – Bere Island has one of the high­est depen­den­cy rate of all the Irish islands, 78.5% which is twice the nation­al aver­age. We need to ensure that we give our com­mu­ni­ty the best chance to beat this virus. We know that if some­one on an island gets the virus it will take a lot of resources that are already stretched to the lim­it, so by mak­ing this dif­fi­cult deci­sion it will ensure that we have giv­en the island and our com­mu­ni­ty the best oppor­tu­ni­ty for all of us to get through this.’

Besides iso­la­tion, BIPG is using its com­mu­ni­ty radio to lift up the spir­it of local res­i­dents and help sup­ple­ment dai­ly activ­i­ties. For exam­ple, the radio is being used to broad­cast the Sun­day Mass for the islanders and to link teach­ers on the island with pupils via the radio sta­tion to pro­vide them with study tips.

Pauline Hur­ley, prin­ci­pal of Scoil Phobail Bhéara, con­tact­ed Bere Island Com­mu­ni­ty Radio and since Mon­day March 16th the radio sta­tion has been broad­cast­ing the school assem­bly at 8.55am each week­day fol­lowed by updates and advice from teach­ing staff. The school plans to expand this ser­vice over the next few weeks.

Accord­ing to Sarah Robin­son (research fel­low at Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege Cork), com­mu­ni­ty radio can offer sup­port dur­ing the pan­dem­ic by spread­ing a sense of safe­ty, calm­ing, con­nect­ed­ness and hope. Helen Rid­dell (mem­ber of the BIPG) claimed that this is a real unprece­dent­ed event for the local com­mu­ni­ty radio, which is nev­er­the­less becom­ing a reli­able source of sup­port for the islanders.


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