30 Mar 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.
This so true. We never in a million years envisioned the current situation when we set up Bere Island Community Radio, but it’s really becoming a lifeline for the community now.
— Helen Riddell (@helenriddell) March 16, 2020
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.