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Volunteers provide lifeline with talking newspapers service

TALKING Keith Stoneham

TALKING Keith Stoneham

  • by Keith Stoneham, chairman of Havant Borough Talking Newspapers
 

Founded in 1993, the Havant Borough Talking Newspaper (HBTN) was intended to assist the blind or partially sighted, and to bridge the gap left by the Chichester Talking Newspaper in the East, and the Portsmouth Talking Newspaper in the West.

The geographic area covered by the Havant Borough includes Emsworth, Waterlooville, Hayling Island and areas in between, including Havant itself.

Initially, some 400 residents were identified as having sight problems and so began receiving the fortnightly news recordings based on The News, alongside the quarterly audio magazine, Look Hear, which listeners were able to hear on their tape recorders.

Twenty years on, a dedicated team of around 50 volunteers work from their studios in East Street, Havant, are producing audio on memory sticks.

These are distributed to some 200 listeners, with compatible listening devices that the service loans long-term, for free.

Though the number of listeners has decreased thanks to improved treatment of conditions such as glaucoma, the HBTN is anxious to contact more residents in order to provide free support.

On National Libraries Day (February 9), representatives of talking newspapers will be available in local libraries to explain more about the services and to offer demonstrations. Talks will be held in Leigh Park, Hayling Island and Waterlooville libraries from 10am to midday, and in Havant library from 2pm to 4pm.

HBTN is a registered charity supported entirely by donations and contributions.

If you think you can help or would like to subscribe call (023) 9248 101.

 

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