East Shropshire Talking Newspaper needs volunteers to continue vital service

A talking newspaper that helps blind and visually impaired people keep up to date is in need of volunteers to help produce it.

Robert Green, chairman of ESTN
Robert Green, chairman of ESTN

A charity which helps blind and visually impaired people listen to the news is asking for help.

East Shropshire Talking Newspaper – which provides people throughout east Shropshire and beyond with audio news and features – is looking for presenters, editors, readers, packers and recording engineers.

The charity has been going for more than 30 years, and covers areas including Telford, Newport, Market Drayton, Shifnal and Broseley.

Spokesman for the newspaper, Philip Browning, said: "We provide all sorts of news and features for people who are blind or visually impaired – it's a service that people really value and can be a lifeline against loneliness.

"Approximately 160 people listen to the Talking Newspaper every fortnight using memory sticks which we send out, as well as those able to listen online, so it helps a lot of people. They listen regularly and really value the relationship with the paper - it's like being part of a family.

"We try and provide a good range of features and news for people who struggle with their sight, and to do that we work as a team.

"We always need presenters, recording engineers, editors, readers and packers and can easily train volunteers up – being able to use a computer is a great help.

"The memory sticks are put into pouches and sent out free of charge, then people return them and they are used again. So what we are looking for is some hands-on help to prepare and pack.

"By preparation we mean people recording their contributions. These days, because of the pandemic, people have been recording them at home and uploading it to Google Drive. It's day to day IT stuff though, we don't want people to be put off by it."

The value of the talking newspaper is felt by many people in the county as it helps to keep them up to date and in touch with news and features.

Philip added: "The impact you can have as part of the Talking Newspaper team is considerable – it provides a lovely link for people who have problems with their sight.

"It’s interesting to do, whether it’s the technical end or something like editing, reading or presenting. If you’re interested in finding out more give me a ring on 07740 255717 or email eastshropshiretn@gmail.com.

"There’s lots more information on our website eastshropshiretn.co.uk too. Please get in touch – it’s a great way to help visually impaired people in a really practical way.”

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