The Connecting Generations Project – “En-R-G” – used the medium of radio broadcasting to challenge the view that young people are to be feared in the community.This negative perspective was not upheld by a North Ayrshire Household Survey which identified young people as more likely to be the victims of crime. Over 60 volunteers have been involved directly in the project about half aged between 12 and 25 and half between 26 and 80 plus.
The 3TFM community radio station broadcasts to Stevenston, Saltcoats and Ardrossan on the Frequency of 103.1FM. With a primary focus of promoting health, 3TFM takes volunteers from the three towns and surrounding areas who are interested in different aspects of broadcasting and provides training in live presentation, radio production, administration and other key skills. The organisation also provides the facility for local community groups to further their audience and increase participation by playing on-air ads and providing dedication pieces of programming targeting these user groups.
For 3TFM, the benefits included:
- increasing contact with local school, community groups and care homes
- introducing volunteers to 3TFM and to the community learning centre base
- increasing 3TFM profile.
to build understanding and trust across generations through learning radio skills together;
to use investigative journalism to test, challenge and report independently on the findings of the survey by making a broadcast programme;
to use peer education to cascade learning across the generations using ICT equipment, marketing and evidence gathering across the Three Towns;
to encourage adults and young people to ‘walk a mile in each others’ shoes’ and experience learning from a different perspective;
to produce and present the findings jointly in a one-hour programme.
Funding from ‘Connecting Generations’, provided by the Scottish Community Foundation and Generations Working Together, was used to purchase new digital recording equipment, pay volunteer expenses and produce copies of the programme.
All the volunteers became more confident and developed their interviewing and editing skills. Some plan to progress to a career in broadcasting. Both staff and volunteers found that mutual trust, respect and understanding grew from working together as a team. In addition, volunteers benefited from both a new way and a new area of learning at different stages in their lives. They also gained new skills and a new understanding of volunteering, broadcasting and working with others.
For the wider community, the project offered an opportunity to see people of different ages working well together and to learn they share a surprising amount of common ground.
Despite strong encouragement the main challenge was that not all schools and organisations approached responded to the request to participate in the survey.
Key learning factors
- need for a well structured action plan with clear steps and outcomes
- ensuring the necessary team members were in place for the various project activities
- ensuring volunteers were supported to gain the confidence in conducting community consultation.
What participants have said
“I never thought I would be able to go on radio at my age.”
“3TFM has given me the confidence to write and record stories for children and adults that take a satirical look at life and encourage people to look on the bright side.”
“It has opened my eyes to the skills that young people have. We work as a team, and age is no barrier here. I don’t know what I would do without it.”
“It’s just great that we have found a model for development which brings young people centre stage instead of separating them out from the community. When you read our report, you will understand the enormity of the shift in adult perception here in North Ayrshire.” Adult Learning Manager.