A cupboard under the stairs and a weekly sing-along podcast.  

Just some of the innovative solutions that Hospital Radio volunteers across the country have found to continue broadcasting during the Covid-19 pandemic. A cupboard under the stairs? No, this is not the beginning of a Harry Potter novel. But this story is just as magical.

With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, severe restrictions on day-to-day life have now been in place for over a month. But this has not prevented volunteers at Hospital Radio Stations across the country from continuing their vital work, keeping hospital patients and vulnerable people in their communities entertained and informed during this stressful period.

A makeshift studio in a volunteer’s home. Photo: Harrogate Hospital Radio; Hospital Broadcasting Association.

Due to social distancing regulations, volunteers have been unable to access their usual recording studios, which has led to some creative and innovative problem solving. Volunteers at Harrogate Hospital Radio have managed to continue to broadcast 24 hours a day by setting up makeshift studios in airing cupboards, attics and even under-stairs cupboards in their own homes.

Hospital Radio Bedford have also managed to keep the show on the road for 24 hours every day by broadcasting from volunteers’ homes. Ian Griffiths from Hospital Radio Bedford explains: “Radio is the best media to help with loneliness, and with the entire population isolated we felt it important we continued with as much live and relevant programming as possible.”

Studies have shown that there are many health benefits to listening to the radio. Listening to music releases the hormone dopamine, making you feel happier, and reduces the levels of cortisol in the body, which lowers stress levels. Hospital Radios are therefore more important than ever during this stressful and uncertain period.

In Banbury, Radio Horton from Horton General Hospital have teamed up with theatre production company, Voices Across Time, to create a brand-new podcast, Bring Me Sunshine, aimed at care home residents and hospital patients in the community who may be feeling anxious or worried. The podcast involves sing-alongs, gentle physical activities to exercise the body, music requests, and even features voicemail messages from family and friends of care home residents and hospital patients.

Florence Taylor, the Executive Producer for Voices Across Time said: “We absolutely love working with our partner care homes and are delighted to be partnering with Radio Horton for this very special project. These are strange times and if we can help spread joy, laughter and music, then we will do everything we can to do that.

Anthony Brown, the Radio Horton Chairman adds: “We are incredibly excited about working with the Voices Across Time team to support our local care home residents, hospital patients and anyone who has been impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus) and may be unable to visit their friends or family members.”

The Voices Across Time team, Florence Taylor, Joseph Cummings and Hattie Wells.

Bring Me Sunshine is broadcast on Horton Radio every Sunday at 10am and is repeated throughout the week.

It seems then, that volunteers at Hospital Radio Stations across the county are the real wizards and witches in this story, by bringing joy and comfort to the most vulnerable members of our society. At a time when we are all physically isolated from each other, the magic of radio is bringing communities closer together.

The above article by Kate Williams first published on goodnewsshared.com in May, 2020.