BBC Local Radio Celebrates Good Deeds and Good Samaritans through Poetry

Over 700 000 stories of people offering help and support pouring into BBC Local Radio’s ‘Make A Difference’ service have inspired a powerful collection of poems which launches today.


Acts of humanity and compassion such as “the bike donators, the Aunt Betty wash bag makers, the marathon kitchen runners and Oldbury’s brave-the-shave police” (FOOTNOTE 1) feature in these poems celebrating the local heroes, Good Samaritans and those whose good deeds and kind hearts are connecting communities together across England.

Each of the 39 BBC Local Radio stations across England has commissioned a poet in their area to write a poem inspired by these stories.  In turn, their work has sparked a poem for England written by poet and broadcaster of BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, Ian McMillan.

Ian McMillan who has also made a film of his poem, “Lockdown Lines” (CLICK HERE) said “what struck me when I read these stories was how moving it is to have this record of ordinary people telling personal stories of these turbulent and terrible times. I’ve tried to reflect that in my poem as well including the idea of the tiny local kindnesses that build and build and really make a difference to how we see ourselves and our future”

The BBC Local Poets include the official Derby County Football Club football poet Jamie Thrasivoulou for BBC Radio Derby, the Poet Laureate of Sheffield Otis Mensah, British Ethiopian poet, writer, theatre maker and human rights activist Zelly Lisanework for BBC Radio Suffolk, Trinidad born Gabriella K A Gay who founded Stoke’s roaming poets and BBC Radio Nottingham’s Ben Norris who is a playwright and actor, known for his portrayal of Ben Archer in BBC Radio Four’s The Archers.

The project was inspired by BBC Radio WM who asked Birmingham poet Matt Windle to write a poem about how the people of the West Midlands were helping each other.  Sarah Harness Editor at BBC Radio WM said: “Matt’s poem, which is called ‘Make A Difference’, really summed up how the people here are pulling together and we thought it would be great to show how those in other parts of the country were responding in similar ways.   We hope the collection of 40 poems spearheaded by Ian’s Poem for England – which we are sharing today online, on air and on social-media, will spread a little joy in these challenging times”.

The BBC’s Head of Audio and Digital for England Chris Burns said “poetry  has an amazing quality to help celebrate, remember and thank those for the many good deeds taking place around the country and how BBC local Radio is at the heart of bringing people in need together with those who can offer help and support.

Susannah Herbert of National Poetry Day says: “A shared poem is a powerful act of connection: it tells us we’re not alone. In commissioning BBC Local Poets to celebrate the generosity of their communities in these troubled times, Local Radio stations are beacons of creativity. We hope their listeners are now inspired to send their own poems to their local station in good time for National Poetry Day on October 1.”

You will be able to hear these poems on BBC Local Radio stations on Friday 29th May and also via the link to the BBC Local Radio station on bbc.co.uk/makeadifference Click here

If you have a poem about these extraordinary times, then please upload it to bbc.co.uk/upload Click here

For further detail you can contact Harjinder.mann@bbc.co.uk