Radio Christmas Project Grant & Guest Appearances
In December 2020, The Clare Foundation were delighted to support Radio Christmas with a project grant to help them with the setup of their studio and their running costs. The radio is run entirely by volunteers and broadcasts live from 1-24 December, 24 hours a day; with the UK team handing to the team in Central America for them to broadcast through the night. Not only that, their other stream broadcasts all-year-round –providing a selection of great festive music Radio Christmas Non-Stop whatever the time of year.
Recognising the challenges of 2020 and the pandemic, The Clare Foundation staff team were keen to get more actively involved in the project. Our team offered to assist with marketing and communications or get hands-on volunteering at the studio. We were pleased to be given the opportunity to host two afternoon shows a week. It was a great opportunity to talk about the work of The Clare Foundation and showcase some of the fantastic charities we work with across Buckinghamshire.
Interview with Oli O’Neill from Radio Christmas & Helen Mee, Head of Charity Operations at The Clare Foundation
Which charity does Radio Christmas raise money for?
Street Kids Direct which is a UK registered charity working directly with vulnerable children in Central America. https://www.streetkidsdirect.org.uk/
What was your 2020 fundraising target?
Our target was £15,000 in the knowledge that we had a match funder for up to £15,000 making a total of £30,000 going to Street Kids Direct.
Did you hit the target? What was the actual amount raised?
Through donations, texts in and several other giving initiatives we raised £17,220 between 1st and 24th December. Once you add in the £15,000 match funding the grand total we finished on was £32,220.
Where the money goes. What are the key projects in 2021?
100% of the money raised goes to Street Kids Direct, a charity supporting young people living on, at risk of living on or dependant on the streets, predominantly in Central America (Guatemala and Honduras). The charity support several projects helping to transform lives. This is done through mentoring, school placements, medical support and lots more. This video explains the vision of the charity in 2021:
How many listeners did you have over December 2020?
We had to make the tough decision fairly early on in 2020 to go online only for Radio Christmas this year because of the ongoing pandemic. Normally we would run an FM channel in Amersham and the local area. In the month of December we had 64,267 unique listeners tune in from 192 different countries. The graphic attached shows our top 10 countries.
Did you have any highlights or favourite moments this year?
For me, there were 2 key highlights. Firstly, we designed the shop front of the studio (the former Oxfam retail unit on Sycamore Road) to be as Christmassy as possible. We had several trees, lights, fake snow… the lot! It was just brilliant sitting inside the shop and seeing the amount of people (young and old) who would stop and be reminded of the joy of Christmas. Often they’d wave or poke their heads in to say hello and spreading happiness to the local community like that was the best.
Secondly we had the presenters themselves. We were able to bring joy not only to our listeners but also to the presenters and a sense of normality to them. I had lots of guests on my show who had never been on the radio before so were learning a new skill, able to relax and do something good for the wider community at the same time.
Were there any challenges?
The challenges for Radio Christmas started in the summer when we had to make a decision on whether we could even run this year. We decided that we could despite half the team staying in Central America. Setting up the studio normally takes a week or two with a large team coming in and each doing their own thing however this year because of social distancing we had to keep numbers to a minimum. The whole team stepped up to the challenge and took on more responsibilities in a different way to make sure the radio station happened. This year has been a year we’ve had to learn to work remotely and this came in especially helpful when Buckinghamshire went into tier 4. We were able to adapt overnight and move equipment into the homes of our key presenters. At 10pm on the 19th we were live from our Amersham Studio, at 6am on the 20th we were live from somebody’s house and were able to run the final 5 days remotely.
How has The Clare Foundation supported you?
The Clare Foundation have been crucial to the successful running of Radio Christmas this year in 3 different ways; first with a financial grant. This enabled us to raise the profile of Radio Christmas by being on Sycamore Road (the high street) in Amersham and spread more festive joy to more people. We were also able to service our equipment and produce a better quality of sound on the radio station. Secondly, the Clare Foundation are supporting us with an ongoing project into the structure of our organisation, ensuring the longevity of the project and making us more attractive to potential funders and supporters in the future. Finally, the Clare Foundation also had a show on Radio Christmas and were able to share with our listeners the great work they do in the county.
I think you’ll all agree, Radio Christmas have done such amazing work and what a better way to wrap up this article than to share the Christmas Radio video featuring sunny Guatemala.
About Radio Christmas
Radio Christmas has been running for 12 years; it began in a garden shed in 2008 with the idea of providing a festive charity radio station to the local community of Amersham in the UK, raising funds for the projects in Central America working with vulnerable children. Since those early days Radio Christmas has grown into a very popular festive radio station not just in the UK but around the world, with listeners tuning in from 192 countries. In December 2020 listeners tuned in via the Radio Christmas App or from the website and plans are already in place to broadcast to the South Chilterns area over FM radio in 2021, transmitting from the tower block of Dr. Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham.