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Volunteering Feature

Following my recent post about Sunshine Radio, I thought I would share a feature I wrote in my first year about volunteering at Hospital Radio.

HEY MISTER DJ… Put a Record On.

Why should you volunteer? Volunteering at University is a fantastic way to try different things and make new friends. Nicola Melhuish looks in to why you should volunteer for a hospital radio station, a great experience for both you and the community.

There are so many different reasons to start volunteering at your local hospital’s radio station. By taking part in volunteering you can; try something new, develop new skills, grow in confidence, make a difference, gain work experience, ‘give back’ to the community, make new friends and to have fun.

But why should you volunteer for hospital radio?
Hospital radio is a perfect way to meet a whole bunch of different people who you might not normally be friends with. As the age range is quite wide, you get to learn more about different people; their jobs, their families and you’ll learn so much more about music! It’s an incredible atmosphere as volunteers get to interact with patients and find out what they want to hear on their show and something you’ll feel good about doing.

Hospital radio began in England in 1925 in York County Hospital. Headphones and speakers were installed in the hospital so patients could listen to church services and sports commentaries. After their success, other hospital radio stations began, which started to play popular music. There are now around 230 organisations playing music to hospital patients.

So what do you volunteers do there?
Most volunteers at hospital radio begin by visiting the patients on the ward, have a chat and ask them if they would like to request a song to be played during the show. Bournemouth’s local hospital radio station, Hospital Radio Bedside, plays their shows to all five of Bournemouth’s hospitals; however the shows are produced at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital. At Hospital Radio Beside, The Request Show plays daily and has a different presenter each night. By taking part in a show like this means that you can meet lots of different people on the wards and play a huge variety of music. One moment you could be playing Frank Sinatra, the next, you could be dancing around the studio to Pixie Lott.

Visiting the patients on the ward is a deeply rewarding experience as many people rely on just the radio for company and to take their mind off being sick. It is nice for these patients to see a new, smiley face who is happy to have a chat with them for five minutes. Several patients have enjoyed the hospital visitors so much that they have become radio volunteers themselves after they have recovered. Laura Tremelling, a presenter of Wardround at Weston-super-Mare’s Sunshine Radio, believes that her show brings a sense of community to the hospital and makes the patients feel more included. “I try to make my show as much about the patients as possible. We obviously take their requests but we like to know why the patients picked that particular song and also learn a little about each person.” Not only does Laura ask about the patients but she hosts themed nights and runs competitions. “On themed nights we often get all the volunteers to dress up; it puts a smile on the patient’s faces and they like to know why there’s a cowboy walking around asking them if they have a favourite country song! We like to hold competitions such as ‘Guess the Year’ and ‘Name the Artist’ to get the patients really included. It’s much more exciting for them to play games whilst they listen.”

But what else can you do there?
Community radio stations are always finding new ways to fund their shows and projects. If you volunteer, you can help organise different charity events for the hospital. You could plan cake sales, car washes, fancy dress tea parties… let your imagination go wild!

It is extremely beneficial to your career.
Although you can gain such a great feeling from helping out the patients of the hospital, taking part in hospital radio is also extremely beneficial to you too. Employers love to see that you have taken part in volunteering as it shows that you have gained new skills and that you are willing to give back to the community. According to http://www.the-hub.org.uk, Bournemouth’s Student’s Union’s volunteering website, around 70% of employers would employ someone who has volunteered over someone who has not. Through volunteering you acquire several skills that will be useful when you apply for jobs such as communication skills and time management skills. You don’t need to go every night, just a couple of hours a week is a brilliant start to get into the world of volunteering.

If you’re interested in a job in radio, or simply the media, then this could be the perfect way to kick-start your career. Most hospital radio stations offer basic training on how to run a show, which could later lead to you hosting your own hospital radio programme. There are loads of celebrities who started out doing hospital radio including; Philip Schofield, Phillip Glenister, Scott Mills, Chris Moyles and Aled Jones and Rachel Jones from the Chris Moyles show. You never know, you could end up with your own show on BBC Radio One!

My own experience…
I’ve been a volunteer at Sunshine Hospital Radio in my hometown of Weston-super-Mare for the past eighteen months. I began to volunteer simply to get some work experience as I am interested in getting a job in the media industry, so I wanted something good to put on my CV. However, after just a couple of weeks, I was having the best time with the new group of people I had met and couldn’t wait to get back in the studio the following week, playing songs to cheer up the patients. Volunteering for hospital radio really is a truly rewarding experience.

So, get involved!
Hospital Radio Bedside is always in need of some new, friendly faces to join their team. The Request Show runs every weekday between 8 and 9.30 and volunteers are needed to visit patients to take requests. The atmosphere of the show is extremely welcoming and would love the students of Bournemouth University to get involved.


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