Halle Etheridge, The Training Coordinator at Diverse FM Community Media & Training awarded British Empire Medal in the 2020 Honours List

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Halle Etheridge, a former volunteer presenter at Diverse 102.8FM and currently serving as the Training Coordinator has been awarded a British Empire Medal for her contribution to the Coronavirus response.

In June this year, Her Majesty, The Queen, agreed to defer the publication of the Birthday Honours 2020 List in order to respect the circumstances at that time and to provide an early and first opportunity to recognise some of those involved in the response to Coronavirus.

Halle was among 450 nominees who have been put forward specifically for their contribution to the Coronavirus response, and as exemplars of the wide range and exceptional community and front-line service given across the country in recent months.

The recognition comes after an incredible year for both Halle and Diverse FM. Diverse FM is a local radio station broadcasting 24 hours a day to the people of Luton and sorrounding towns and villages. The station is also a major training orgainisation in the area; it supports young people who are NEET, risk of offending or offending. and the unemployed via a variety of nationally recognised qualifications, courses and other training programmes.

Halle’s role at Diverse FM is to develop and promote the Teaching and Training services via her role as Training Coordinator to the people of Luton, incluiding through a number of government funding opportunities such as the Study Programme, Building Better Opportunities (BBO), Community Led Local Development (CLLD) programme and others.

During this extraordinary period in a Human History that is the Covid -19 pandemic, Halle has continued her very busy schedule by running back and forth to students homes providing them with training materials and 1-2-1 support at 2 meters distance on their doors steps as well as on social media, phone calls and delivering weekly food parcels and other essential items. Halle is also a single mother with 2 young children and because of her role in the community her children had to be taken to school each morning.

On top of all her professional educational activities in her free time Halle helped provide much needed support with food parcels to those in the local community. The background work needed to provide this service included going to local food stores to buy a range of nutritionally beneficial foodstuffs. The service including considering the dietary needs of some of the clients, such as non meat eater, halal meats, fruits cereals, pasta, potatoes plus many other products. Included in the range of supplies were appropriate PPE and anti-viral gel and cleaning materials for surfaces in people’s homes. Halle also provided much needed advice on benefit claims, encouraging exercise and healthy eating.

A major part of the managing the process was taking referral from the public, which had to be managed via a spreadsheet and had to be kept up-to-date, this became increasingly arduous as the numbers calling for help came in to the radio station increased by the day.

Amongst the clients asking for help and support for food parcels were Diverse FM own students, refugees, those living in housing association’s run accommodation for independent living, the elderly and then the many, many people who had lost their jobs and had no income what so ever.

Food parcel programme was funded by the Department for Environment, Food& Rural Affairs and Bedfordshire & Luton Community Foundation.

Just in the final 12 weks of the food parcel delivery initiative, Diverse FM supported 2,058 people, provided 42,518 healthy nutritious meals at a cost of £84,067

Halle went way beyond her role as a mother and training coordinator, her dedication to helping those in hardship and in crisis is to be highly commended.

Halle Etheridge says “ I am very grateful to be recognised in the 2020 Honours list and delighted that the work of Diverse FM Community Media & Training has been acknowledged. I feel very fortunate to be supported by such an enthusiastic and dynamic team, driven by the vision to put community first”.

Kamal Acharya, Chairperson of Diverse FM Community Media & Training said“This is an incredible honour. I am very privileged to be involve with Diverse FM whose founder member was awarded an MBE in 2009, for services to children and young people.Followed by Diverse FM was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (The MBE for volunteer groups) in 2014 and in 2020 Halle Etheridge winning the British Empire Medal.

I would like to thank everyone at Diverse FM, including the management committee members, staff, and volunteers and all the funders who has helped us advance in our aim to support the local community. “Halle’s legacy is clear to see. We are now in a fantastic position to ensure that youth and community development and education and learning in the community is given the prominence it deserves. I would like to congratulate her on behalf of everyone at Diverse FM Community Media & Training.