Calls for more people to sign up to talking newspapers in Norfolk

A scheme which enables those who have lost or partially lost their sight to keep up-to-date with their local news is calling for more people to take up the free service.

There are nine talking newspapers titles across Norfolk which offer people who are blind or visually impaired to keep up to speed with news from their surrounding area.

Blind or visually impaired people can access the service for free and a memory stick with that week's - or in some cases fortnight's - edition is delivered through their door.

There are about 1,500 listeners across Norfolk - and it is hoped with an increase awareness of the scheme, more people will access the service.

Tony Vale, who is a trustee of the Talking News Federation, said: 'The listeners say it's like having a friend come though the letterbox.


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'We would like more listeners. Like most organisations, we are trying to make ourselves known and to make people aware of what we do.

'We want anyone who is blind or visually impaired, or their relatives, friends or carers, to be aware they could be receiving the service.'

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Talking newspapers, which are funded through voluntary donations, are an audio equivalent of the local newspaper providing news, information and features from the area.

A group of volunteers produce an hour-long digest of news, information and material from the local newspapers - including the Evening News and its sister paper the EDP - which is copied on to memory sticks. They are then sent out to those who use the scheme free using Royal Mail's concession rates for the blind.

The memory sticks are then sent back to the organisations, using the wallet provided, and they are then re-used for the next edition. Other formats do exist, including CDs, cassettes and internet downloads.

Voluntary roles are editors, sound technicians, readers and those who help with the administration.

There are some 500 groups nationally, 400 of which are members of the Talking Newspapers Federation. In Norwich, the main talking newspaper is Chatterbox. Others include the Wymondham and Attleborough and the Great Yarmouth and District Talking Newspaper Association 'Grapevine'.

Fred Jenkins, 89, of Queensway in Wymondham, is signed up to Chatterbox Norwich, Wymondham and Attleborough, Waveney Words and Lowestoft and District TN. He is also signed up to one in Portsmouth as one of his sons used to be, and one of his grandsons still is, in the Navy.

The former carpenter, who has five children, 11 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, has been a listener for more than 10 years.

Mr Jenkins, who started to lose his sight 18 years ago, said: 'I like to be kept in touch with what's going on in Wymondham and the surrounding area.

'There are lots of people with a loss of eyesight who are still not aware of the service. It keeps me in touch with what's going on.'

To find out more about Talking Newspapers and the titles available, go to www.tnf.org.uk.

Are you trying to promote a charitable service which helps those in need? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk.

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