You think of hospital radio, and I guarantee you automatically think of old presenters walking around grotty wards collecting requests from listeners who are aged 80+.I’m right aren’t I? Well, if you think that, it’s about time we debunk some myths and stereotypes that are associated with hospital radio, and realise both younger and older generations are now often involved in running stations.

Volunteering

It’s not just for the old. Many stations now have a varied age range of people volunteering with them. I know in my station, the youngest person we have is aged 16, and I daren’t say how old the oldest is – but there’s a varied mix.

Even the younger members of our station do things that perhaps are presumed to be for the elder member. We have many young ward visitors who are only too happy to give up a couple of hours a week to visit patients on the wards, collect requests and simply be a friend at the bedside. Heck, they even bring new ideas to the station, and overall allow us to take the station in a fresh direction from time to time.

Getting young people on board to volunteer with your station shouldn’t be a worry. Getting a fresh view on aspects of your station from younger volunteers can vitalise what your station ultimately offers, just as long as your station is meeting it’s charitable objectives.

To put int into perspective, I’m the youngest on the two Trustee boards I sit on, both locally and nationally. And that’s because I want to be able to make a difference, and give a fresh look on how both the charities I’m a trustee of operate and run. I want to be able to ensure both continue to grow and adapt with the changing technologies.

Young people also in some respects have more time than you might think. Even if they give up two hours a night, or five over the course of a week; that’s five hours of invaluable time you’ve got, with someone fresh faced willing to put the effort in.

Elder volunteers are of course, undoubtably favoured in terms of both the time they can commit to tasks and life skills they have developed. They have lots of knowledge to share; and can often relate to many audiences of hospital radio.

For young people, volunteering, volunteering will not only look good on your CV, in environments such as hospital radio, it allows you to build up confidence in speaking to and meeting new people; build up social skills; working as part of a team, and ultimately creating new friends. For those looking to get into the media industry, it’s certainly a foot in the door for experience, but ultimately it’s a great way to give something back.

Debunking those myths:

Hospital Radio is just for old folk
Nope, anyone can get involved as a volunteer, usually aged 16+ depending on your local stations requirements. And you’ll find that a mixture of young and old actually listen.

Older people don’t know how to use technology
Wrong. You’ll find most elders are okay with the use of smartphones & tablets. Their relatives are most likely to show them how to use the basics. If your station has an app, your ward teams can show them how to install it (and do it for them, with permission)

Nurses & Hospital Staff don’t have time for Hospital Radio
If your station has a good rapport with your local NHS Trust, chances are staff will be aware of you and have time. Just remember; they’re busy people looking after sick patients.

Those who volunteer in hospital radio are deemed to be an annoyance
Not at all. Many patients within hospitals and staff across the UK recognise the work that hospital radio volunteers do. Sometimes it’s nice for a patient to just have someone who pops up to have a chat for twenty minutes, even if they don’t end up requesting a song. You’re never an annoyance.

You have to give up hours upon hours of time a week to do it
The amount of time you usually have to volunteer for hospital radio is decided by each individual station, but most usually say at least an hour or two a week, or whatever you can give, as long as you are making a valuable contribution to the station, no matter how big or small.

 

If you’re reading this and you’re a younger reader looking to volunteer for a charity, I highly recommend hospital radio. You’ll gain so much experience, grow in confidence and you’ll be working for a charity who’s aim is to ultimately help entertain patients who need a friendly face during their time of need; someone or something to be able to take their worries away, even for an hour an evening.


Ian Pinnell

Ian Pinnell is an award winning broadcaster & creative from Oxfordshire. He currently serves as a Trustee for two charities, and Publicity Officer for Radio Cherwell, hospital radio in Oxford.

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