A PLUCKY podcaster from Stratford has been bringing people together in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
Self-professed introvert Emma Gurdag launched ‘Stratford Calling’ to help spread the word on volunteering opportunities, and organisations in need of support, as lockdown restrictions began to ease.
The weekly podcast features independent businesses and charities, and residents with stories – from a young girl fund-raising for Shakespeare’s Hospice to an actor and director who nearly lost his theatre to a hotel development.
Emma, who also co-founded the family event Caterpillar Cafe, told the Observer: “During lockdown I was hearing many friends and family members say how they wanted to support local businesses to help them survive. I was also aware over 300 people had volunteered during lockdown to support those who were vulnerable or isolating, and many wanted to keep volunteering afterwards. So I thought ‘what is the best way to let local people know about what is out there in our wonderful town?’ and so the ‘Stratford Calling’ podcast was born.
“It took a little while to pluck up the courage to do it, as I have never really done anything like this before and am not a naturally out-going person, but lockdown has in some ways given me the motivation and confidence to step outside my comfort zone and try new things, so I gave it a whirl and I’m loving it.”
Organisations which have been in the hot seat so far include zero-waste store The Refill Box, Stratford Food bank and The Friendship Project.
Stratford Youth Forum – a platform allowing young people in Stratford to voice their views – has also guest-hosted the podcast.
Mum Emma explained: “They discussed the issues that are important to them and led some interviews of their own. It’s been great to meet such a variety of people so committed to creating positive change in so many ways in our community.”
The podcast has proved popular among residents – so much so, its initial fortnightly schedule was increased to weekly episodes.
Emma added: “The response from the community has been amazing. I have had many messages from local people saying how much they enjoy the podcast, and how interesting and informative it is and that has been great to hear. I love the variety of people I speak to and being able to find out things about Stratford that I wouldn’t have even known about before this. It’s easy to listen to and a good way to stay connected to our community.”
Stratford Calling is available at stratfordcalling.buzzsprout.com or from Apple Podcasts and Spotify.