Volunteering Opportunity Highlight: Havant Borough Talking Newspaper
Blindness can mean a life of isolation for those who can’t see.
Those who suffer from poor eyesight can feel cut off from the details of life.
Havant Talking Newspaper (together with over 300 Talking Newspapers around the UK) does its best to help with these problems by providing free audio recordings of what’s going on in the local area. News stories are taken from the Portsmouth News, the Hayling Herald and other local newspapers.
How is this done?
Put simply, a dedicated team of volunteers start by picking out the best stories from the local press and editing them to cut out any unnecessary detail or repetition (the Editors). The Producer then works out the best ‘running order’ for these stories and writes links for the stories so that they ‘flow’. This stage is vital to create an interesting digest of local news.
Another team, those with good speaking voices, read out the chosen stories, which are recorded onto a USB stick. The USB sticks are then posted out to the listeners. The listeners have a simple tactile listening device which can be operated without having to see it. The USB sticks are then posted back to us, free of charge, and the whole process begins again.
The team produces monthly recordings to be sent out to the listeners. This process used to happen fortnightly but has had to be cut back because long-standing team members who have given good service over many years have recently retired from HTN.
We get many positive comments. “I feel part of the community again” is one we frequently hear. It is comments like this that make it all worthwhile. We all take for granted easy access to the news and forget how difficult it can be for people who can no longer read the news because of blindness or poor eyesight, especially for local stories which may not be on the TV or radio.
We also like to meet up with our listeners, and the annual barbecue for listeners and volunteers is a popular event, and so useful for getting to know people and getting feedback on our recordings.
We feel that a monthly service is the absolute minimum we should be providing, we’d really like to get back to a fortnightly service. If any more team members retire due their long service, ill health or a change in circumstances HTN may have to fold, so we are desperate for volunteers in all areas. You won’t be paid, but you’ll have no or minimal expenses, and you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made a difference.