Help for Sunderland pensioners to make the switch to digital TV

Mascot Digit Al delivers help scheme information packs to Sunderland residents.

Mascot Digit Al delivers help scheme information packs to Sunderland residents.

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THE big switchover is almost here – pensioners and disabled people in Sunderland are being offered extra support in the run-up to the switch from analogue to digital TV.

The move later this year will mean all television viewers across the North East will have to get their programmes via digital broadcasting.

Although residents will not need to buy a new set, they will have to convert their TVs using a Freeview box, a digital satellite service or digital cable.

Now the Switchover Help Scheme, launched to support vulnerable sections of society, is contacting households which are eligible for special help in the months leading up to the two-stage change on September 12 and 26.

Emma Speed, Help Scheme manager for the Tyne Tees region, said: “The message we want to give eligible people is that there is no need to worry because help is available.

“If you or someone you know is entitled to help from the help scheme, then all you have to do is watch out for information pack, which will be sent any day now and either give us a call or return your completed form by post to get the help you are entitled to.”

People are eligible for the scheme if they are aged 75 or over, have lived in a care home for six months or more, or are eligible for disability living allowance, attendance or constant attendance allowance, mobility supplement, or registered blind or partially sighted.

The offer is free for people who receive pension credit income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment and support allowance. Others will be asked to pay £40 towards the standard help option, which includes easy-to-use equipment to carry out a conversion, an approved installer, and 12-month aftercare service.

“The Switchover Help Scheme has been designed around the needs of older and disabled people,” said Ms Speed.

“Equipment has been chosen to be easy to use, and contact centre, delivery staff and installers have all been trained to understand and respect older and disabled people.

“All installers are vetted, carry identification and will never call without having made an appointment.”

For more information, call free on 0800 408 7654 or visit www.helpscheme.co.uk.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho