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Annual goodwill radio show brings street party to Lund


Clemenstorget in Lund, Sweden

writer icon Vera Johansson     Christiaan Dirksen   |   Culture     🕐 11. Dec. 2018


Yesterday evening, in the Southern Swedish city of Lund, three radio presenters were locked into a small glass house. The house has been erected in the city's main square, Stortorget. 

For the next six days, the presenters will provide live radio from the glass house, 24 hours a day. This has been an annual tradition in Sweden since 2008 and it now enters its 11th year. 

Charity appeal
There is a reason for this seemingly odd behaviour. The six-day programme, named Musikhjälpen, is a campaign led by Radiohjälpen, a foundation organised by the Swedish Public Radio (Sveriges Radio). It is an appeal for money, and each year there is a specific theme and cause that they raise the money for. 

This year's theme is the right for everyone to function differently.

People living with disabilities are one of the most discriminated groups in the world. They can be stuck in poverty, excluded from society and made invisible due to the negative stigma of their condition. 

Poor access and less opportunity
Sveriges Radio reported
that there are approximately one billion people in the world with a disability. Around four out of five of those people live in countries with low or medium levels of income, and extreme poverty, sickness and undernourishment are standard. Those with disabilities have poorer access to healthcare, support and education. 

"The situation is completely unacceptable"
said Secretary-General of Radiohjälpen Kristina Henschen. She continued, "It is our duty to make a change."  

Guests in the house
The radio programme is also live-streamed to television so that people can watch what happens as well as listen. During the week, famous Swedish musicians will visit the glass house as guests, and perform live. 

Experts in the field of disabilities and rights will also join the presenters at various times throughout the show. They will share their knowledge with the presenters and listeners, and help them to become more informed about the issues.

Many celebrities, companies and organisations donate gifts for the presenters to auction off during the week. Many Swedish workplaces start collections of their own, and donate the accumulated sum at the end of the week.

Tough living conditions
While staying inside the glass house, the presenters will sleep in shifts, so that someone is always awake to run the programme. Much of the time, all three presenters will be awake.

As well as being isolated from their usual physical comforts, they are also denied regular, solid foods. The reasoning behind this is to show solidarity with those who have nothing to eat. The presenters will still get nutrients in other ways, and organisers insist that it is not a danger to their health. 

Serious Request
Restricting the diet of the presenters is one of the features found in the original Dutch radio programme, Serious Request, which inspired Sweden's Musikhjälpen into being. Serious Request has run every year since its start in 2004. It has had a ripple effect, with similar programmes now happening all around the world. 

Mobile app
Accompanying the Swedish Musikhjälpen is an app. The app works to bring the audience closer and share the experience. Listeners can request songs via the app, at the same time as they make a donation to the cause. 

Another fun element to the mobile app is the opportunity to send a live reaction to the events happening in the glass house. For example, if a listener loves what is going on, they can press the heart button and it sends their response to the presenters. The programme organisers have implied that further options for live reactions will be added during the week. 

All money raised during the week will be donated to organisations and charities in this field, each one being thoroughly vetted by the organisers of Musikhjälpen. In 2017 the programme raised a total of 74 410 363 SEK.



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