So if anyone had wondered whatever happened to Simon Bates I was now in possession of the answer. He is now the host of the breakfast show on BBC Radio Devon and was coming through my headphones loud and clear as I sat in the remote studio in Barnstaple waiting to be interviewed about ARC’s ‘Helping Each Other’ project. This was one of the more surreal moments of my professional career. I had been warned that “Simon can be a bit random” and I was not without trepidation.
‘Helping Each Other’ is a peer education project aimed at tackling the sexual exploitation of young people with learning disabilities. We had been working with a trusted journalist – perhaps the only trustworthy journalist (in my experience) – for some months, and today was the result of a morning she had spent with the team, listening and recording.
“A tough subject to tackle at breakfast.”
In the event the BBC (thanks Sophie) did us proud. We were the lead news item on every bulletin, a couple of good five minute items and the live interview with the venerable Mr Bates who (in the event) wasn’t random at all. This despite opening with a suggestion that this was not the sort of thing that one would want to be hearing about over the toast and marmalade and that those of a nervous disposition should walk away from the radio now (“a tough subject to tackle at breakfast”). For the next three weeks or so you can listen to the interviews from the link below (starts at about 1:41).
This turned out to be the start of a quite tumultuous day, with my mobile pinging away with emails and texts. The project has also featured on BBC Breakfast in the regional slots. Sophie kept up a stream of texts alerting me to the various times and programmes we were featuring on, which I was then trying to pass onto the teams and to head office.
By 5.30pm I was in a Social Services building in Plymouth assisting our acting CEO, Anthea, in setting up for ARC’s latest Policy Roundtable, when news came through that we were going to be a feature on that evening’s Spotlight (the SW’s regional news magazine) at 6.30pm. Another frantic round of texts and emails, and an excellent discussion on the market shaping elements of the Care Act only somewhat dampened by the realisation that our conference room was equipped with a 56in wide screen HD TV, and if we could only time our coffee break right . . .
Helping Each Other Project Officer
- Watch the BBC Spotlight piece on the Helping Each Other project
- Listen again to Rod’s interview with Simon Bates (interview starts at 1:41, expires 1 April 2015)
- Listen (below) to the BBC Spotlight article on Sexual Exploitation of People with a learning disability and the work of the Helping Each Other Project.
- Read more about the Helping Each Other Project
- Read about the the Helping Each Other Teams’ filming their video shorts