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.

DJ Navy, one of Nomad Radio's presenters
DJ Navy, one of Nomad Radio’s presenters

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.”

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The almshouse movement

So much more than affordable housing

With the average house price in Hammersmith at more than 25 times the salary of a nurse, it is no surprise that many workers are reaching retirement without the safety net of their own property. That’s why almshouses like ours, providing older people an affordable home in the community where they belong, are as vital now as when the movement began hundreds of years ago.

By Victoria Hill, Chief Executive – Hammersmith United Charities

 

The coronavirus has seen an outpouring of appreciation for key workers who leave the safety of their home to work keeping their community safe, fed and well. In the frightening early days of the first lockdown, we stood in the street and clapped for healthcare workers, carers, shop assistants, cleaners and more – all the people who put themselves at risk for the sake of others.

The contribution of key workers is rarely highly valued in monetary terms and these are often the very people who struggle to find an affordable home near their families and vital services as they grow older and become more in need of care themselves.

The average house price in Hammersmith is more than 25 times the salary of a nurse, and so it is no surprise that increasing numbers of workers are reaching retirement without their own property to fall back on. And with the average rental cost of a one-bedroom flat at two and a half times the state pension, it is easy to see how so many older people are also priced out of the private rental market.

With one in four older people in our area now living in poverty, the mission of almshouses like ours is as relevant as it was 400 years ago when Hammersmith United Charities was founded.

The almshouse movement has been around for hundreds of years but the Almshouse Association and the Charity Commission have only recently created a formal definition of what it means to be an almshouse. It describes exactly what we do here at Hammersmith United Charities.

Our charity was founded in 1618 with a gift of £100 to provide housing for the relief of the ‘elderly poor’ of Hammersmith. This gift has been added to and grown by generations of trustees and we now have an endowment and 92 flats on two sites just off the Goldhawk Road. These properties are highly protected and cannot be sold or used for any other purpose. Our residents must be over 60, have lived in Hammersmith for at least five years, be of limited means and in need of sheltered accommodation.

In human terms, our status as an almshouse means that the Charity can provide housing to the people who have often contributed most to our community but feel valued least. We believe that no one should be denied the opportunity to live in a decent home simply because they were never given the opportunity to climb the property ladder. The cost of our flats is regulated by statute to ensure that anyone can live here without causing hardship.

For us, almshouse living is about much more than just affordable housing. We know from research by the What Works Centre for Wellbeing that where we live and our relationships also have a significant impact on our wellbeing. For Hammersmith United Charities, what defines us is our ability to provide a home where people feel safe, in the place where they belong, surrounded by a community who values them for life, not just for lockdown.

***

More information:

Over 60 and looking for a new home in Hammersmith? We provide beautiful, welcoming sheltered housing with award-winning communal gardens. Flats available now from £870 per month.

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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.

(more…)

Read More ...