As it celebrates its 40th anniversary year a Bexhill charity is working to counter a difficult problem.
In common with similar groups in other towns, Bexhill Talking Newspaper Association is finding that fewer people with reading difficulties are now making use of its free weekly service. In part this is believed to be the result of improved treatment for conditions leading to sight loss. But the organisation also fears that its message is not reaching those who could benefit from the work of its volunteers.
Bexhill Talking Newspaper Association was founded as a result of a public meeting at the De La Warr Pavilion in September 1976 called to establish a means for visually handicapped people to keep in touch with local news.
The talking newspaper became operational in February 1977. Quickly, its 90-minute cassette recordings of news from the Bexhill Observer and ‘magazine’ material produced by volunteers were going out to more than 200 blind and partially-sighted local people a week. Sadly, listenership has dwindled in recent years to around 75.
This is despite the fact that new technology has enabled the service to ‘go digital’ with resultant improvements in sound quality and ease of operation. Listeners now receive a memory stick every week. With this plugged into a simple player supplied by the charity listeners can enjoy keeping up to date with local matters, read for them by the friendly voices of the charity’s volunteers.
Bexhill Talking Newspaper Association also extends its free weekly service to anyone living locally who has difficulty in reading for any other reason, not just those who are registered as blind or partially-sighted.
The service is recorded each Friday afternoon at the charity’s town centre studio. In general the recording comprises forty five minutes each of news and magazine, ninety minutes in total.
Readings are undertaken by a rota of volunteers.
Anyone requiring the service is invited to contact the secretary, Barry Edwards, on 01424 211007.
The service is currently seeking a further volunteer to join the ranks of those who undertake the recording and bulk-copying of the memory sticks on a rota basis.
For further information visit: www.bexhilltalkingnewspaper.org