Charity’s appeal for help bringing news to the blind

Wealden talking news, Heathfield SUS-160113-225231008

Wealden talking news, Heathfield SUS-160113-225231008

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A charity which helps blind or partially sighted people keep up to date with local news is appealing for volunteers.

Wealden Talking News has more than 140 clients who have difficulty with their sight or are completely blind.

The charity aims to provide them with an up-to-date picture of news in the area via a memory stick which arrives in the post every Monday.

This contains recordings of main items of interest from local newspapers that clients would have been able to read the previous Friday. There is also a recorded magazine tailored specially to their needs.

Memory sticks come in four separate editions which are produced to cover Heathfield, Crowborough, Uckfield, Hailsham, Newhaven and Seaford. The charity also provides boomboxes to play them on.

Spokeswoman Patricia Harwood explained: “Volunteers work from a small production room in Heathfield. On Friday mornings editors read all the local papers and magazines (including each edition of the Sussex Express).

“They produce separate A4 sheets of cutouts and copies of all items they feel would be of interest. On Fridays the Heathfield edition is recorded together with the monthly magazine. The other three are recorded on Friday evenings. Recordings are each addressed by a recorder and three readers.”

She added on Saturdays, master recordings are transferred onto memory sticks which are packed in special posting wallets and taken to the nearby sorting office. Royal Mail delivers them free of charge.

Patricia continued: “All the work is done by a friendly group of volunteers who each give a small amount of time and get a disproportionate amount of fun and sociability out of it.

“For editors it’s only a few hours on a Friday. For recorders and readers, it can be two to three hours once every two or three weeks during the day or in the evening - and there is still time afterwards to get a pint at the pub if there’s nothing on the telly!

“We have a lovely, friendly group of people but there are just not enough of us at present.

“If we had enough, there would not be the need for them to come in every week.”

While donations are welcome and valued, the organisation needs more volunteers to help with all aspects of their work. No qualifications are needed, just a wish to do something worthwhile for people who are less fortunate than themselves in a very pleasant and friendly environment. Patricia Harwood can tell callers all they need to know, so suggests they ring 01435 862719.

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