MP for Bexhill and Battle launches new Sussex-wide initiative for the blind

An MP has visited a charity as it launches a new Sussex-wide initiative for the sight impaired.

Huw Merriman, Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, visited Wealden Talking News in Heathfield on Friday, July 20.

Mr Merriman was given a tour of the facilities and told how the charity is launching a new service that will involve audio recordings of popular Sussex magazines for those who are blind and partially sighted across East and West Sussex.

Cllr Pam Doodes, vice-chairman of Wealden District Council, accompanied Mr Merriman, and welcomed by John Clemence, chairman of Wealden Talking News and the trustees.

Mr Merriman: “Without the inspirational team from Wealden Talking News, many people would be cut-off from what is going on around them.

“It was a privilege to record my own contribution and exchange policy ideas which could further help those with sight loss.

“I will be taking one idea, to give free trial internet access to those with sight-loss, to the Chancellor and to our broadband providers.

“The team at Wealden Talking News should be applauded for their dedication and desire to help those who may otherwise feel alone in our rural community.” During Mr Merriman’s visit he was interviewed in the new studio by Mike Hollis.

He spoke of his own experience of care for the blind and partially sighted with regard to his own grandfather who lost his sight to type one diabetes. Because of this the MP has been a big supporter of this cause having had first hand experience of the effect blindness can have on an individual. Mr Merriman was concerned to hear that 90 per cent of the charity’s listeners are not online and promised to carry forward a proposal to the relevant government department that broadband costs be provided free for a limited time for sight impaired people who struggle to meet the costs. The charity produces a free weekly news bulletin covering Heathfield, Battle, Crowborough, Uckfield, Hailsham, Polegate, Seaford, Newhaven and outlying districts. The new service will provide monthly audio versions of Sussex Life magazine and Sussex Living as well as a compilation issue.