Following the success of the work undertaken when the Anglia TV region was switched to digital, the Rural Community Council of Essex was asked to provide the same service for the parts of Essex, Southend and Thurrock covered by the London TV region.

On the 18th April the London TV region was switched to digital transmissions and the old analogue services from the Crystal Palace were switched off. In the six months leading up to the switchover the RCCE worked throughout the area to ensure that nobody got left behind with a blank television screen.

The work was undertaken for the BBC through Digital Outreach Limited. The whole of the region was covered by a team of volunteers, village agents and staff who ensured that isolated and more vulnerable people were informed through the people that they trust. To deliver the communities work in the most effective way the RCCE enlisted help of Ngage Thurrock, Southend Association of Voluntary Services and Basildon, Billericay & Wickford Council for Voluntary Services.

In our area 62 people were trained to spread the word in their local communities. The aim was to get the message to those that need it by engaging with organisations and services that are most likely to interface with them, such as Parish Councils, GP’s, Pharmacists, Libraries, Shops, Pubs, Clubs, Day Centres Transport providers and other local people that they will trust. Our team identified and met with 2,049 trusted people and 1,596 agreed to pass on the message.

On the switchover days some of the volunteers and Village Agents helped at the advice points and where necessary the Village Agents undertook home visits to re-tune the televisions or set top boxes where people where finding it difficult to do it themselves.

At the end of region review meeting the BBC praised the work of all of the Rural Community Councils covering the areas that receive London television broadcasts. They were delighted with the outcome and the fact that we exceeded all of our targets. Digital switchover was the biggest social change event since decimalisation and given the scale of the change and the scope for problems the switchover in the Anglia and London region has been hailed a huge success.

If you are still experiencing any difficulties you can still visit the Digital UK website for information at: or call their advice line on 08456 505050

The Switchover Help Scheme has helped hundreds of thousands of eligible people make the switch to digital. Run by the BBC through an agreement with the Government, it was designed around the needs of older and disabled people. The equipment was chosen to be easy to use, and contact centre, delivery staff and installers were trained to understand and respect older and disabled people. If you were eligible and registered for help with the Help Scheme you can still call them free on 0800 40 85 900 to obtain ongoing support.

If you would like to know about this work or the work of our Village Agents please email Brian Goodwin, Village Agents Manager at: