A Horsham charity, which has been providing blind and partially-sighted residents the ‘independence’ to access local news for more than 30 years, recently gave this newspaper a behind-the-scenes look at the work they do at the Drill Hall every week.
The volunteers at Roundabout Talking News have been distributing audio recordings of local news articles to its ‘very appreciative’ listeners since 1978.
Gill Charman, 77, of Horsham, who is blind and has sat on the charity’s steering committee since its founding, explained how the service helps her.
She said: “Certainly you’ve got that bit of independence - when anybody reads the paper to you they only read certain articles, there’s no way they can read it in an edited version.
“I would certainly recommend it to anyone - it’s got the best of the news.”
Excerpts taken from the County Times and informal chats in a magazine section aimed at providing listeners with a sense of community are recorded on Thursday evenings.
A number of the volunteers have been helping the blind for multiple decades.
Jon Dean, 68, the chair, has also been with the charity since its founding, following his life-long interest in recording.
And Roy Smith, 85, the deputy chair, joined when he retired 23 years ago.
“Sometimes we get volunteers who come to us but some of them get their arms twisted, like Howard,” he smiled.
Howard Brake, 70, who started volunteering for the charity three years ago, said: “There’s good camaraderie in the teams - that’s always apparent.”
He added: “It’s very rewarding because you read letters and comments and [the users] donate at Christmas time.
“The donations are regular and they are certainly very appreciative of what’s done.”
Working in rotating editing, copying, and recording teams of four, about 50 volunteers dispatch memory sticks to close to 140 listeners, including former residents spread across the country.
Each user is allocated three sticks for an uninterrupted service and offered an adapted speaker system free-of-charge.
For more information, including how to donate, volunteer or become a listener visit their website.