Livingston firm helps keep autism-friendly radio station on the air

Sam Radio is wired for sound thanks to a boost from Esh Border Construction’s Communities fund 

Livingston-based Esh Border Construction has proved it’s on the same wavelength as a community radio station for adults with autism by boosting its coffers by £310.
The firm’s Communities scheme has awarded nearly £10,000 to 13 charities, social enterprises and community groups across Scotland, with Sam Radio the latest to benefit.
Sam Radio, which broadcasts from St Margaret’s House in Edinburgh seven days a week, is the first station of its kind in Scotland – attracting autistic listeners from all over the world.
Last week, Esh Border Construction’s Business Development Manager, Euan McDermott, visited the radio station, where he was interviewed on-air by presenter Joseph Cameron.
Sam Radio cheque presentation: Pictured, from left, are Paul Ross, Phil Ross and Euan McDermott.
Sam Radio, which is not for profit, tuned in to the grant funding after hearing about the support it offers to local organisations who often struggle to continue operating.
It’s the brainchild of Sound Engineering graduate Paul Ross who, after being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, was left frustrated by the lack of opportunities available to people on the autistic spectrum.
In the last year since its launch, the station has grown its number of presenters from two to 18 and Ross and his parents say they are desperate to keep it going.
His father, Phil Ross, said: “Sam Radio has made a big difference to the lives of everyone involved, significantly boosting confidence and engagement while providing an amazing social outlet where people of similar backgrounds have been able to make great new friends.
“At first, some of the presenters were scared to go on air on their own, so brought in someone else who was also autistic, and then slowly built up their confidence.
“Suddenly they are able to talk on air for five or 10 minutes without a break, plan and organise their radio slot, and even do small things that might not have been possible before – simple things like independently travelling here on a bus.
“Paul started the station because he didn’t have great experiences of community radio elsewhere. Now he’s flourishing and Sam Radio is helping to raise awareness of autism across the world – we have listeners as far away as America and Saudi Arabia tuning in through the website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
“We are essentially a community – everyone supports each other – but the support of external organisations like Esh Border Construction is vital if we are to continue and grow.”
Esh Border Construction’s Euan McDermott said: “It’s a real privilege for us to contribute to and support Sam Radio’s growth. The station is a brilliant resource for so many who otherwise wouldn’t have had opportunities to get into anything like this.
“Sam Radio is enabling positive change in such an amazing way, and we’re so proud to be part of that. Seeing how it operates and being invited on to be interviewed is the icing on the cake.
“Adding value to the communities in which we work is such an important guiding principle of the business, and Sam Radio represented an ideal recipient for funding.”
Since its inception five years ago, Esh Communities has provided more than £140,000 to organisations which serve the same communities as the firm.
Other beneficiaries have included a West Lothian refuge for homeless women and children who have suffered domestic abuse, and a befriending service in Dumfries and Galloway for older people who are socially isolated.
Esh Communities is supported by Esh Charitable Trust and is open to groups who operate across Esh Group’s regions with innovative approaches to tackling community issues.
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