I'm sure most of you know that in April, the London TV region will be going fully digital. What does this mean? Well, it's the biggest change in television since the introduction of colour. In April 2012 analogue television will be switched off across the London TV region. If you don’t have digital TV by the time of switchover, you will lose your TV channels.
For the vast majority of you this will mean nothing more than pressing a button and retuning your TV on April 4th and again on April 18th. Because you have Freeview, or Sky, or Virgin. There's loads online about this, but the best single thing to read is this PDF.
Now imagine you're an older person who's not that tech savvy. Maybe you've got family who'll help you. But maybe you haven't. And perhaps the television is a big part of your life, especially if you're not very mobile. As strange as it may sound, not having Jeremy Kyle in your living room of a weekday morning may actually be MORE distressing than the prospect of the show itself.
Thankfully, help is at hand for people aged 75 and over, or who are eligible disabled. The digital switchover help scheme offers equipment, installation and free aftercare to convert one of their TV sets to digital. It costs £40, or is free to eligible people who are also on income related benefits.
Everyone eligible will already have received a letter telling them all about it, but the Beeb needs to reach 100% of people, not 99.9%, so it's trying all avenues. I've been involved in an extremely minor way with helping the BBC think how it can use local websites such as this to reach those people eligible for the help scheme.
So, although you as a website reader are probably already aware of the whole thing, maybe you know a neighbour or a relative who isn't. Or perhaps you're a member of one of the residents associations, or generally come into contact with eligible people through your job - doesn't have to be in West Hampstead, all of London will switch at the same time. The Switchover Help Scheme has launched a ‘Helping Hand’ campaign calling on everyone to try to make sure every older and disabled person in the area knows about the help they can get.
There is a lot of information available for people who want to get involved , and the team is determined to do all it can to make sure that everyone gets the help they need. For more information, call 0800 40 85 900 or visit helpscheme.co.uk. Textphone users can call 0800 40 85 936.
For general information and guidance on switchover please call Digital UK on 08456 50 50 50 or visit digitaluk.co.uk.