An army of volunteers set to help digital switchover

AN ARMY of volunteers are being recruited to help with the digital TV switchover scheduled for later this year.

Wansbeck Centre for Voluntary Service (WCVS) is to mobilise charities and volunteers to help residents in Northumberland to make the switch.

This month the WCVS will work with other charities and voluntary groups to prepare people for the switchover, which starts in the Tyne Tees TV region on September 12.

The initiative is being made on behalf of Digital UK and the BBC-run Switchover Help Scheme.

The Wansbeck service will pull together local groups from across Northumberland to hold events and presentations, giving advice on the changes and how to apply for the Switchover Help Scheme.

The scheme provides practical help to older and disabled people and thousands are expected to benefit.

Wansbeck CVS has been supporting community groups and volunteers in south east Northumberland, including some of the most deprived areas in England, for 24 years.

Anne Lyall, pictured, chief executive officer, said: “Switching to digital TV will be straightforward for many people, but some others will need practical help, advice or reassurance.

“We look forward to working with our fellow charities to provide that support in Northumberland and help prepare the local community for the switchover.

We will also encourage eligible older and disabled people to apply for the Switchover Help Scheme.”

Local charities can apply for free briefing places, and for funding through a small grants scheme set up to encourage extra events locally.

Materials to help run events and explain switchover will be provided.

John Askew, Digital UK’s regional manager in the north east, said: “The outreach work planned to reach into the community is essential and will help to ensure everyone can enjoy the benefits of digital TV when switchover arrives.”

The Switchover Help Scheme, run by the BBC, has been set up to provide practical help to eligible older and disabled people switch to digital TV.

People are eligible for the scheme if they are aged 75 years or over, have lived in a care home for six months or more, get (or could get) certain disability benefits, or are registered blind or partially sighted.

For £40 or free for people that are eligible and also on certain income related benefits, the help scheme will provide easy to use equipment to convert one set, an approved installer to supply and install the necessary equipment, and a 12 month aftercare service including free helpline.