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A RAY of Radio Sunshine for Children in Care

Categories: East Sheen,East Sheen News,News

Children in care in Richmond and Kingston now have their own radio station – thanks to Achieving for Children (AfC) and Radio Jackie Breakfast Show DJ, Neil Long.

Radio Aspire Youth (RAY!) is the first radio station in the country for children in care. Working with staff from the AfC ‘Virtual School’, Neil Long is supporting the new venture.

Staff have taken on the roles of Producer, Technician and Station Manager, with guidance from Neil. The extended team includes staff from the Children in Care Council, a Foster Carer volunteer who has produced Women’s Hour for Radio 4 and Richmond’s Virtual School Educational Psychologist.

RAY! currently broadcasts via Achieving for Children’s Virtual School website every Wednesday between 6 and 7pm. The show is divided into music and features, including the popular bedtime story. Station idents and jingles have all been created professionally by Neil at the Radio Jackie studios.

Past shows are saved as podcasts on the website, which includes a ‘Student Zone’ containing resources and features linked to the radio which promote literacy and engagement in learning.

RAY! is the brainchild of Suzanne Parrott, Virtual School Head at Achieving for Children. She said:

 “Radio Aspire Youth is an exciting new venture for Achieving for Children. In order to provide the best possible care for a child, we sometimes have to place them far away from home. Our radio show provides comfort, a sense of community, and learning opportunities for some of our most vulnerable children and young people.

“RAY! is in its early stages but we have already had fantastic feedback from children in care. We think that RAY! has huge potential, and we hope to expand its coverage and content over the coming months.”

Neil Long adds, “Working on this project has brought home to me just how much good work is being done for young people in care through offering supporting and raising their attainment.  These children deserve it as much as anyone else, perhaps more.  I believe that teaching broadcast and radio skills is not just a useful learning experience, it also equips young people with confidence and develops communication skills that are transferable across the whole spectrum of life.”

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Schools, said: “What a fantastic innovative idea. The virtual school is all about helping to remove barriers to education for young people who are unable to attend traditional school due to an early childhood trauma. This online provision really helps them to learn, whilst feeling safe in their own environment. This radio station adds a bit of fun but also hopefully we will be able to involve young people in the production in the future.”

 Job Opportunity:

At the moment there is one show a week but the team is applying for funding so they can employ an ex-care leaver with Broadcast Media qualifications as an Apprentice.   If this sounds like you and you want to develop what we believe to be the first Children In Care Radio Station in the country then get in touch!

Get Involved!
If you can sing, play an instrument, DJ, read a poem or tell a joke please also get in touch as we would love to feature you on a show.


Author: Jacquie Duncan