Free DAB radios for over 70s as BBC local radio aims to Make a Difference

BBC local radio is teaming up with manufacturers, retailers, and a loneliness charity to offer free DAB radios to the most vulnerable people aged over 70. It comes as millions of people are forced to stay in their homes, and isolate from their friends and families, because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Radio is a vital source of news, information and companionship in these unprecedented times, and BBC local radio wants to ensure as many people as possible can access it by giving away DAB digital radios to people nominated by local radio listeners. The initiative is part of the BBC’s Make A Difference campaign, aimed at connecting communities in the wake of the health crisis, and is running across all 39 BBC local radio stations in England.

Thousands of DAB radios, donated by Argos, Currys PC World, John Lewis & Partners, Pure and Roberts Radio, will be given away for free to vulnerable people aged over 70, and distributed by loneliness charity Wavelength, while Duracell UK will provide batteries.

From Monday 30 March, anyone can nominate a recipient of a free radio by completing an online application form at

Tony Hall, the Director-General of the BBC, said:

“Local radio is a lifeline at this time and has never been more important as a source of trusted local news and information, and also as a companion for people who are isolating. We want everyone who needs access to the radio to have it, that’s why we’re giving away DAB radios. I’m proud we’ve been able to coordinate this initiative with our partners who have been so generous in offering their resources.”

Tim Leech, Chief Executive, WaveLength, said:

“WaveLength has been fighting loneliness for the last 80 years. We are delighted to come together with all partners to help provide radios to those over 70s most in need. This is what Wavelength was born to do.” 

Diane Fuller, Sales & Marketing Director Roberts Radio, said: 

“Roberts has been supplying radios to the UK for nearly 90 years and will continue to do so in supporting our elderly and vulnerable during these challenging times. We believe radio connects communities and provides much-needed companionship and information, and we are proud to be supporting this initiative.”

Kesah Trowell, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Currys PC World, said:

“We’re pleased to be a part of this partnership. Older members of our communities are already particularly vulnerable to feelings of loneliness and isolation, but with the added fear of the Coronavirus and no visits from friends or family, we hope these radios will not only keep them up to date with local and national news, but also help to keep them entertained and provide a source of comfort during this difficult time.”

Hubert Eiter, Head of Marketing at Pure Ltd, said:

“Make a Difference is a great initiative by the BBC and we are honoured to be part of this.”

Rebecca Atkinson, John Lewis & Partners, said:

“John Lewis is really excited to be working on the Make a Difference initiative. In a period of such uncertainty and apprehension, it is important that we support the community and make a difference.”

Make a Difference is a coordinated campaign run across all of 39 BBC Local Radio stations in England. It aims to work as a virtual community notice board, linking together those who want to give help with those in need. Since it started, the BBC’s local radio stations have been receiving more than 8,000 calls a day from members of the public.

Further details of the free DAB radio scheme can be found at