Engineers are to be sent out to help TV viewers still unable to get a signal when a replacement transmitter is erected at Bilsdale next week.
The chief executive of Arqiva, the company which operates Bilsdale Mast, met representatives from local authorities, housing associations and charities from across the region to discuss the proposals to restore TV services and help the most vulnerable groups affected.
Paul Donovan met representatives of 15 regional organisations from across the region a week before an 80-metre temporary mast, near the original site at Bilsdale, is expected to restore services to more than 95 per cent of households.
Bilsdale Mast was damaged by fire on August 10, since when the company has been working around the clock to restore vital services to those affected, including by erecting more temporary masts at Eston Nab, Sutton Bank and other sites.
As well as updating the group on progress around so-called Project Restore, Mr Donovan set out a campaign to engage local communities to help those people who will still not have a full service once the temporary mast is switched on.
A call centre will open shortly, and a new online hub will be launched providing updated information and a place where people can register their postcodes and details to get support.
Those attending were shown detailed maps of the region setting out the likely impact of the temporary mast’s switch-on, and the areas which contain so called ‘not-spots’ of coverage which will need further intensive support.
Engineers will be sent out to help households in these areas.
People aged over 65 and those whom are either clinically vulnerable or vulnerable will be prioritised for support.
Mr Donovan also announced initial support of £150,000 for three regional charities, Two Ridings Community Foundation in North Yorkshire and County Durham Community Foundation.
Each organisation will receive £50,000 to help identify those vulnerable people affected by the loss of their TV service, and to support work on digital inclusion and social isolation.
Helicopters are lifting the temporary mast into place and the damaged mast is to be dismantled. A team of around 100 staff are working on the site at Bilsdale Moor.
The temporary mast is due to be switched on next Tuesday, October 5, if the weather permits work to continue at speed.
Checks on the temporary mast will disrupt TV services the day before on Monday, October 4.
Mr Donovan said: “It was extremely helpful to have the support and input of our partners and stakeholders across the area as we work to fix this together. Arqiva is absolutely committed to restoring services to those who are affected as quickly as possible, and to supporting the most vulnerable people as a priority.”
Jan Garrill, chief executive of Two Ridings Community Foundation in North Yorkshire, said: “Television is so important to people in North Yorkshire, and especially the elderly who rely on it for companionship.
“This donation from Arqiva is very welcome, as is the plan to restore services, and we will work with the company to provide help and advice to those who need it most.”
Michelle Cooper, chief executive of County Durham Community Foundation, said: “This plan to restore services and this support is extremely welcome and much-needed. Television is vital to many people in County Durham, and especially to those who rely on it for companionship, preventing the isolation that comes from the loss of a TV signal is very important.”
Helen Hunter, chief executive of North Yorkshire and Darlington Age UK, said: “We mustn’t forget those people across our region who do not have digital connectivity, and for whom TV is a really important service and part of their lives.
“These funds will help us bridge that local digital divide.
“While Arqiva is making progress, we all need to help with the efforts to restore this vital service as quickly as possible.”