Activism

Big Issue turns up the volume for community radio

Wirral Radio can now help change more lives, thanks to £60k boost from Big Issue Invest

One inspiring community radio station in north-west England has been handed a huge boost to expand its life-changing work on the airwaves.

Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue, has made a £60,000 investment in Wirral Radio. Investment managers were impressed by the station’s efforts to tune into the needs of local unemployed people and teenagers struggling in school.

The station, broadcast on DAB digital radio with an audience of over 2 million listeners, has proved itself on just the right wavelength for young people who require learning support outside the mainstream school environment, with additional counselling also on offer.

Liverpool student Mark first began volunteering at Wirral Radio at the age of 16, using the production facilities to immerse himself in the world of DJ-ing.

“When I first came I was low in confidence and my mental state was all over the place due to having a rough time with my OCD, depression and being bullied,” Mark explained.

“The staff were very good at supporting me, they would sit down and talk with me as well as implementing techniques such as writing down the positives and negatives of what was going on in my life.”

If it wasn’t for the radio station and the staff helping my mental health and wellbeing I might not be here today

At the age of 18 Mark was able to start a music technology BTEC diploma at college. And now the budding pop producer has moved onto an audio and music production course at John Moores University.

“I do feel if it wasn’t for the radio station and the staff helping my mental health and wellbeing I might not be here today, so I have a lot to thank them for,” he said.

Big Issue Invest, who provided the loan to Wirral Radio, earlier this year launched Impact Loans England – a £5 million lending scheme aimed at enabling social enterprises to access loan funding of between £20,000 and £150,000.

The programme is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, with finance being provided by its partners Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital.

The Impact Loans England programme is available to organisations across England with the £5 million to lend over the next three years.

Without the funding from the Big Issue Invest, community organisations would find it difficult to obtain finance to grow our business

It’s open to organisations keen to expand in the good work they do, whether it’s buying equipment, hiring new talent, or progressing with business development plans.

“Without the funding from the Big Issue Invest, community organisations like Wirral Radio would find it difficult to obtain finance to grow our business,” explained John Storey, CEO of Wirral Radio.

Kevin Lloyd-Evans, regional investment manager at Big Issue Invest, said: “A lot of great organisations struggle to access small and medium-sized loans, so we wanted to provide support for those exciting social enterprises and charities.”

“We are so pleased that we have been able to provide support to Wirral Radio in order for them to continue to keep doing the incredible work they do,” he added.

Applications for Impact Loans England are now open. Visit bigissueinvest.com, email impactloansengland@bigissueinvest.com or tweet @BigIssueInvest using the tag #ADealAWeek.

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