BY TOBY PORTER – firstname.lastname@example.org
Vital funding has enabled a community radio station to become a lifeline for children, keeping them off the streets.
Grove Park Community Radio will be able to offer an outlet for youngsters after its owners, the Society for the Advancement of Black Arts (SABA) was awarded £9,900 by housing association L&Q.
The money, from the company’s Place Makers fund, will enable people from any background to learn about hosting their own shows, from the WG Grace Community Centre, in Grove Park.
The team behind the station includes a diverse range of broadcasters, some with special needs or mental health conditions.
Dad-of-four Ryan Bromwell grew up in South London and now hosts his own show, as well as training others.
He said: “I got into this because I just love music. I used to play music around the city while I was doing courier work and I got good feedback.
“We take on anybody because we’re helping the community. Whatever walk of life you come from, you’re welcome.
“It’s a great opportunity for kids to be kept off the streets.
“We have one lad who leaves school, comes in for an hour and goes straight home, and it breaks up the boredom.”
Those who want to host a show are taught how to stream, use mixing boards and how to interview people on air – all free of charge.
And presenters can host whatever kind of show they wish – from music-only to talk shows.
“We try to stay away from anything political or religious and we keep it clean but other than that if you have a show idea we can move on it,” Russell added.
“My show, Lemon N Lime, is informative and based on what we have gone through. If we’re feeling hyperactive we play hyper music and talk about e-numbers.
“More recently, after US basketball star Kobe Bryant’s death, we spoke about how different cultures look at death. It depends on how we feel when we walk through the door.
“L&Q’s funding has enabled us to become better.
“For example, we have been working on PCs that are very basic, but now we have a couple of Macs, so we’ve been able to invest and get the station to a better standard.”
Josh Ikediashi, 19, is learning new skills and building his confidence hosting the lunchtime slot on Mondays.
He said: “I’ve had my own show for 12 weeks and it’s the first time I’ve done anything like this.
“My dream is to be famous and play songs.
“I want to be the best I can be. I would definitely recommend it.”
SABA aims to support disadvantaged communities up offering them a voice which mainstream communities already benefit from.
Community project manager, Monique Hamilton, has been instrumental in getting the station off the ground. She said: “It’s about communication, networking, socialising, engaging people and ensuring people aren’t lonely.
“Since young people started coming to the radio station, we went to the Bruford Youth Theatre in Sidcup. We took six of the students and four ended up joining the project – these are children with challenging behaviour, who perhaps don’t go to school – so it’s getting them engaged.
“It really is a life-changing project.”
The L&Q funding has gone towards equipment, training, promotion and start-up support for other projects.
SABA also holds a pop-up craft market, gaming tournaments and a dance academy.
Matt Corbett, L&Q Foundation director, said: “SABA’s Grove Park Community Radio is exactly the kind of project we want to support.
“At L&Q it is our mission to create homes and neighbourhoods that residents can be proud of.
“We are thrilled our Place Makers fund was able to help establish the radio station, which is clearly a lifeline in the local community.”
Presenter Sam Scanlon, who lives nearby, said: “It brings the local children in and anyone can come along. It’s 24 hours a day and they can fill two hour radio shows.
“It’s really good for the community. We also reach out to other projects and because of the publicity we can offer with the radio station we can all pull together.”
Sam’s son, Alfie, set up the centre’s gaming tournament, which he hopes will become a monthly event.
Children between the ages of seven and 19 can take part, with three stages – fighting, racing and sports.
Alfie said: “I set it up as there aren’t any around here. It pulls kids in and gets them off the roads.
“The first one went really well – we ended up with two winners so we had to split the prize.
“Anybody is welcome to take part, they just have to come along to the community centre to sign up.”
The Place Makers fund aims to develop and support local, community-led and place-based projects that reflect the needs of the local area – with grants of up to £10,000 available.
SABA director, John Downie, said: “L&Q’s Place Makers Local fund has enabled us to introduce initiatives that brings local communities together. With the radio station at the core of our project, we have further launched various activities that encourage all sections of local residents to engage with each other .”
L&Q is a charitable housing association that owns and manages more than 8,000 homes across Lewisham and more than 100,000 across London and the south east.
Picture: Ryan Bromwell and Josh Ikediashi