By Marcus Leach

Gateway 97.8, a community radio station in Basildon which aims to enrich the lives of young people and to tackle antisocial behaviour, is the latest winner of the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.

Set up four years ago, Gateway 97.8 both helps young and unemployed people to gain experience in radio and runs clubs and projects with local job centres to help those in hard to reach areas.

The station also delivers a diverse range of community radio shows including the African Show, ‘Schools Out’ — where the show is handed over to local school children, and ‘Live and Loud’ — giving local unsigned bands the chance to reach a wider audience.

Gateway’s achievement was recognised last year when it was granted a full-time license and it recently celebrated its first year of all-day broadcasting.

Gateway is run entirely by volunteers and as a community station it also offers free advertising and support to local charities including Boxes for Soldiers, Maggie’s Pet Rescue and DIAL Basildon.

They have been able to offer work experience to over 200 school children in the last year, many of whom had behavioural problems.

“Gateway 97.8 provides a fantastic service for the local community in Basildon," the Prime Minister said.

"The training courses and work experience opportunities it offers to local students and unemployed people help them to gain valuable skills to gain employment.

"They have also provided valuable support for local charities, both through giving them time on air and by getting involved with activities like sleeping rough to raise money for local homeless charities.

“I’m delighted to be able to present this award and wish Gateway every success in growing to reach even more people and continuing to provide a true community radio service.”

Accepting the award, Business Development Director Danny Lawrence said it was a great tribute to all the hard work.

“This most prestigious Award underscores the value of Gateway 97.8 in providing a personal career development route for people of all ages," he said.

"It is a great tribute to the work, enthusiasm and care of our team that we have received this Award after just our first year of full-time broadcasting.”

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