Communications: BBC charity looking for new partners

Children in Need is a name that everyone will recognise, but fewer will have heard of the BBC World Service Trust - the corporation's other charity.

This organisation is doing groundbreaking work in communications that has the potential to extend the reach of many vital international development projects.

The trust works with small NGOs on the ground but is hoping to form partnerships with larger international organisations.

"This is an area that has been overlooked by the sector," says Stephen King, director of the BBC World Service Trust. "The media is often seen in negative terms, but it can have a positive impact by extending the reach of worthwhile projects and ensuring more people hear about them."

One of the trust's most successful initiatives is a television detective programme in India called Jasoos Vijay, in which the central character is HIV-positive.

King says: "India has one of the highest incidences of Aids outside South Africa, but there is still a lot of discrimination against people who are HIV-positive or have Aids.

"Although there have been government campaigns about it, they have all preached abstinence.

"So this programme has been deliberately designed to be more entertaining, like a soap opera, and it interweaves information about Aids into the storylines."

The trust has been producing the programme with the help of small Aids charities in India. "We are broadcasting experts, but we are not HIV experts," says King.

The charity is funded by the Department for International Development, the EU, the Dutch government and other external bodies - not by the licence fee.

An important strand of the trust's work is capacity building, so it provides training to local journalists.

King says: "We don't just go in, do our work, then end the project when we leave after two years."

He adds that the trust does not try to get involved with an organisation's PR strategy, but can help it enhance a project on a practical level.

"The cost of communications can be factored into the cost of a project in the way other costs are," he says. "But it's important to do your research first."

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