COMMUNITY organisations in West Cork are gearing up to assist older and more isolated people to make the switch to digital television.

As the analogue signal for receiving TV will be switched off on October 24th, viewers who use an aerial will need to take action so they will continue to receive a TV signal after that date.

While most people are expected to get around to it, a new community outreach programme, initiated by the Department of Communications, is targeting people who, for whatever reason, are less likely to make the change in time.

These people may be older, live in more isolated areas and possibly live alone.

Patricia Bevan is the Digital Outreach Champion for the county, working with the West Cork Development Partnership.

She will involve a wide range of organisations in the county to help create greater awareness and understanding of the Digital Switchover in local communities across the country.

Volunteers from these organisations will identify people who might have difficulty making the switch and will assist them to do so.

Patricia said that she believed that a huge community effort is needed.

“We need to make sure that people are not afraid of this change, that they can see the benefits, such as getting a clear, consistent picture, and that they know how easy it is to make the switch.

“We need people to get involved in every parish in the county, volunteers in organisations who already know the people in their own communities that may need some help and are in a position to reach them.

“We’re going to work hard right up to October 24th, relying on the deeply ingrained Irish tradition of caring for our neighbours. We need to make sure that nobody gets left behind in West Cork,” she said.

The Community Outreach Switchover Programme is being run in every county and is a partnership between The Wheel, an umbrella body for the community and voluntary sector, and the leading voice for rural Ireland, Irish Rural Link, with funding from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Patricia Bevan and the West Cork Development Partnership were chosen following a competitive selection process and undertook training in early March.

Patricia continued, “WCDP is delighted to be involved in the programme. Television is an important part of people’s lives, particularly those who are living alone or in isolated locations.

“I’d love to hear from people and organisations who would like to get involved in this exciting effort.

“We know there are lots of people out there who care. This programme is based on providing simple and clear information to the target group, giving them practical help without having to get technical”.

If you’re interested in getting involved or would like further information, contact Patricia Bevan on 087 220 1356 or email patricia@wcdp.ie.