We’re living in strange and difficult times. The coronavirus outbreak has impacted all of us in some way or another. Whether it be changes to how we work, children being at home or finding new ways to interact with friends or family we can’t see.
One of the changes for me has been that I’m now presenting a programme on BBC Essex 6-10pm across the weekend. It’s not a sport show, it’s playing music and keeping everyone updated with what’s going on, and entertained.
I’ve worked for BBC Essex for almost a decade now, in various capacities and I know what a lifeline local radio can be to listeners. For some, it’s their only interaction on a daily basis, others it’s the only place they know to turn to when they need help.
During my first Friday night show, we received a call from Michael in Basildon. He rang to say he was enjoying listening to BBC Essex from his tent. He then went on to say how worried he was about what would happen if he would get ill. That day, the government had announced it wanted all local councils to house the rough sleepers in the area – something that Michael wasn’t aware of. So I told him he needed to get in touch, and my producer Chris gave him all the details once we’d finished chatting on air.
We had Michael’s number so we’d planned to give him a call over the weekend to see how he was getting on. Well, we didn’t need to because the next night he rang the programme again to say he’d got in touch with the council who had sent a taxi and had put him up in a hotel. He sounded so happy, it was actually quite emotional.
I’m so pleased we were able to help Michael. There are so many great things going on across communities, with people helping each other and it’s great to see the positivity amongst adversity. Every hour on BBC Essex, and BBC local radio stations across the county, brilliant people and initiatives are being signposted. I hope Michael, and the many others like him continue to stay safe. And if you’re doing your bit to help people, thank you.
Michael’s story has been shared widely on social media, and included in a TV package for Politics England on BBC One.