New radio station in tune with children in care

Release Date: 26/01/2017

Children in care in Richmond and Kingston now have their own radio station – thanks to Achieving for Children (AfC) and a breakfast show DJ.

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

Staff have taken on the roles of Producer, Technician and Station Manager, with guidance from Neil Long. 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 our Virtual School Educational Psychologist.

Currently RAY! 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 streaming 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, Breakfast Show DJ at Radio Jackie, said:

“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.”

Cllr Richard Hudson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Children's Social Care and Health at Kingston Council, said:

“Yet another excellent initiative from Achieving for Children and one that offers huge scope for further development. Radio Aspire Youth provides a channel that our young people in care can tune into to not only feel informed and engaged, but also to learn. I look forward to seeing, or rather hearing, how this service evolves.”

Updated: 26 January 2017