Nomad Radio: a lifeline for the Somali community
How one of our grants is keeping the station on the airwaves through the coronavirus crisis.
The UK’s only radio station for the Somali community, Nomad Radio broadcasts here in Hammersmith and Fulham. Community-led and bilingual, it’s just received a grant by Hammersmith United Charities to keep it on the airwaves through the coronavirus crisis.
“Even before the pandemic, our listeners were some of the poorest and most marginalised in the borough. And now we know that BAME people are four times more likely to die from Covid-19. It’s never been more important for us to reach out to these families,” says Abdul, general manager of Nomad Radio.
With combined skills in presenting, editing, management and technological know-how, 12 volunteers keep Nomad Radio on the airways in Hammersmith and Fulham, broadcasting in both Somali and English. Launched in 2019, it ran for six months as a traditional community radio station but had to adapt when Covid-19 hit.
“Now we’ve become a vital bridge between our listeners and the local organisations who can support them,” says Abdul. As well as broadcasting entertainment and music, Nomad Radio shares vital health and wellbeing information, too, whether it’s advice from NHS experts about flu or coronavirus, or updates about local services.
“We broadcast information in a way that listeners can relate to,” says Abdul. “And we give the community a voice, too – people phone in to present their views and lived experience,” he says. Having access to a radio station aimed specifically at the Somali community can feel like a relief to listeners: “They may miss their family and friends at home and enjoy the sense of familiarity that comes with listening to their native language and topics.”
With job cuts and uncertainty everywhere, there is a lot of anxiety about finances, health and schooling in the community. “The Somali community has traditionally brushed mental health issues under the carpet. But now young people really want to talk about it. They’re pushing us for more advice about mental health. They are often the decision-makers at home, so they pass on information to the rest of the household,” says Abdul.
A Somali psychologist recently came on a show, and talked about his personal experiences to help get rid of some of the stigma. “I hope that soon all generations will understand that there is no shame in admitting that you are struggling,” says Abdul.
The grant from Hammersmith United Charities has come just in time. “We’re delighted. To be honest, it’s going to help us keep the lights on. The funding will cover the core costs we need to keep the studio running so we can keep meeting the needs of the local population.”
And what advice would Abdul give to someone who has a brilliant idea for a community initiative, but doesn’t know where to start? “Don’t give up. I filled out lots of application forms which were rejected before we got this grant. There is support out there, with great work being done by organisations like Hammersmith United Charities.”
“Always keep in your mind the vision that you have, and imagine yourself getting there. Try and be strong. I keep saying to our volunteers, when things get really difficult: This is bigger than us. We’ve got to keep going.”
Find out more