Free solar radios are lifeline for homeless people

A homeless charity has transformed the lives of thousands of street sleepers... by handing out free radios to fight loneliness and isolation.

26 April 2017
By Connexion journalist

The idea came from the Paris charity Les Enfants du Canal, which helps people in a makeshift camping zone along the Canal Saint-Martin, when a volunteer distributing food parcels one Christmas asked a recipient what they would like as a present and was told, a radio.

After research, the charity found a radio which uses a dynamo and solar energy so is free for the user. It has handed out 10,000 since the first 1,000 were distributed in Paris in 2012 and, now extended to other towns in France via partner associations, 2,500 were given out last year.

Spokesman Hugo Lebrun said: “More than music, news, sporting or cultural programmes, the radio is a presence and provides company which many of these people lack.

“People on the street have the same rights and the same needs as everyone else and one has the right to have information.”

After checking if the radios were still in use months or years after being handed out, Mr Lebrun said: “We found that indeed they were and they were seen as precious possessions.”

The charity set up a radio station to let people participate in debates and it also gives out practical information, for those who cannot read.

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