Community Radio Leader
1830. Daniel Lawrence
Daniel Lawrence BEM, from Basildon, is a local councillor and community radio host who created a free radio scheme during the pandemic, distributing over 15,000 radios to help older people and those at risk of isolation.
Daniel has been a champion for community radio for over 40 years, and is a former Chairman of the Community Media association, the national company that represents community media across the UK. He is also the founder of ‘The Radio Hub’, a networking group for community radio stations across the UK which hosts regular workshops, shares best practice and industry developments, and provides guidance on routes to grant funding and other support. At the start of the pandemic, Daniel realised that radio could provide a vital form of connection and voice of comfort for people isolating at home, particularly vulnerable older people who may struggle with accessing other forms of digital communication. After initially giving out free radio sets through local station Gateway 97.8 to residents aged over 70 in Basildon, Daniel soon scaled up the scheme nationwide through ‘The Radio Hub’ network, working alongside charities such as ‘Age UK’ to ensure thousands of isolated older people could benefit from access to a radio.
In a personal letter to Daniel, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“One of the most uplifting aspects of the pandemic was the way that communities came together to support those who were isolated and suffering from loneliness.
“Through your brilliant community radio initiative, you have provided a staggering 15,000 radios so that people could hear your radio programme and feel a connection to their community. It would have been a source of comfort to many.”
“I’m delighted that ‘The Radio Hub’ has been recognised. Like a lot of groups we had to adapt during COVID-19 and help tackle people in isolation across the UK, helping so many during these difficult times.
“I’d like to thank Ros Connors, founder at Gateway 97.8, for helping us be the pilot and to all groups who took the project on.”
Pictured below: Donald, one of the thousands of people supported by Daniel’s scheme with a free radio set