Connect:Transmit gets mention in House of Commons

March 4, 2014 in Project News by Cormac Lawler

Connect:Transmit has been held up in Parliament as an example of the great work being done by community radio stations around the country. It was mentioned by Ed Vaizey MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, as part of a debate about community radio licensing in the House of Commons on Friday 28th February.

Ed Vaizey’s comments were in response to a question by Ian Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes, who asked about Ofcom’s licensing timetable and its impact on MKFM, a local digital community radio station which is currently trying to obtain an FM licence. During his response, Mr Vaizey described community radio as an “astounding success”, before citing Connect:Transmit:

“The recent connect:transmit project is a good example of how community radio comes together to support skills and training for young people. It was funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and co-ordinated by Radio Regen, a charity supporting the community radio sector. It worked with four community radio stations: Shmu FM in Aberdeen, BCB in Bradford, Future Radio in Norwich, and Preston FM.”

He went on to say that: “community radio has grown and established itself as part of the UK’s diverse and vibrant radio ecology.” However, he also acknowledged the difficulties faced by the sector, saying that: “a number of community radio stations are reporting problems and struggling to remain viable, with some stations reporting a decline in income and difficulties in accessing funding.”

Connect:Transmit is certainly a good example of community radio in action and in support of social gain. It is an innovative example of different community radio stations and organisations working together to deliver social outcomes, and to access funding in support of that objective.

Connect:Transmit is a national project to evaluate and increase the capacity of community radio to develop young people’s speaking and listening skills, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. It has engaged around 100 young people aged between 11 and 18, from a range of backgrounds across the UK, and trained them in community radio skills in a variety of settings – including GCSE delivery, extra-curricular activity, and informal drop-in sessions.

Connect:Transmit has had a positive impact on young people. 90% of the participating young people reported an overall improvement in their speaking and listening skills, with an increase in confidence being the biggest reported change across all of the young people at the different stations.

The young people who participated have cited the strong motivating factor of being on the radio – “Thirteen and you’re going to be on the radio. That’s pretty cool.” They have also commented on the benefit of this project on their personal skills in everyday life, as well as their enhanced employability prospects. A young person at Preston FM said: “I think what we are learning is that preparation and teamwork are important… when you’ve got something that’s ‘going live’ you’ve got no room for mistakes so you’ve got to know what’s coming next; that running order is really important.”

Their trainers have also been enthusiastic about the impact of Connect:Transmit: “Our kids have said things [like]: ‘nobody listens to us.’ Well, this gives them a chance to have a platform where people potentially will listen to them. And it will give them more of a motivation to say it right, to say it properly, to do it well.”

In addition to the beneficial impact of Connect:Transmit on the young people, the participating community radio stations have forged successful partnerships with local schools and youth and other organisations, increasing their capacity to deliver services and projects of benefit to their communities.

Additionally, as part of Connect:Transmit, a survey was undertaken of youth learning opportunities in community radio in the UK – the first survey of its kind. This survey report found that UK community radio organisations (81% of respondees) are delivering valuable social gain by providing learning opportunities for young people, and can create a unique learning culture that is ‘different to school’ in a number of ways. However, echoing the minister’s remarks, it found that the sector is under-resourced and warned that, without better resourcing, more stations will risk closure and the ability to deliver these benefits will be lost.

See videos and other resources around the rest of this site – http://www.connecttransmit.org.uk – including a 4 minute overview video of the project. Read the full report of the Connect:Transmit project here.

MKFM’s write-up of the House of Commons debate is here.

Transcript of the debate (from House of Commons Hansard) is here.