Sleaford talking newspaper charity in danger of closing due to shortage of volunteers

A Sleaford organisation serving visually impaired residents is facing closure after 37 years in operation.

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The pandemic over the past year has given Sleaford and District Talking Newspaper for the Blind serious problems, putting its future in jeopardy.

Howard Sandersm chairman of the Talking Newspaper said: “This comes at a time when the charity was hoping to offer its listeners an exciting new development if or when it can restart.”

The team of volunteers read out the weekly reports from the town’s local newspapers, providing a recording for any visually impaired resident in the area that is registered with the scheme who wishes to keep up to date with local matters.

The covid restrictions have prevented the recording teams safely getting together for their weekly recording of local news and stories and have also meant the recorded memory sticks cannot be safely sent through the post.

Now with the imminent opportunity to get going again the charity finds itself with too few volunteers.

The charity previously operated with five recording teams consisting of a recorder plus three or four readers, one of whom is the Team Leader, plus a copying team.

During the year due to age, ill health or other commitments two of the teams have folded and due to exams and catch up the Carres/High School team will not be able to record until September.

Mr Sanders said: “We have made changes and can operate with four recording teams, but at present that still means we need to find three recorders who need to be used to operating a computer to input our recording onto our computer file and then transfer to a master memory stick ready for copying.

“The commitment is two to three hours on a Wednesday afternoon or evening every three to four weeks.”

They also need six to eight readers to read aloud articles from the press and short stories. Commitment is the same as the recorder. Hopefully two readers will also be Team Leaders selecting articles to be read and organising the recording session. For Team Leaders it is a total of around four to five hours on a Wednesday every three to four weeks.

Howard said: “The situation is so frustrating as the charity has some exciting news. It has just made it possible to upload their recordings onto the internet so that listeners with internet access can listen at their leisure without the need for a weekly memory stick delivery. It would be a great shame to fold now when we believe this development opens up our charity to more people who would appreciate the service.”

Listeners will soon be able to access via Alexa, which the charity could supply; also when restarted they hope to have one of their visually impaired listeners working as a reader too.

He added: “Hopefully we will be able to find sufficient volunteers to enable us to continue and develop this valued service to blind and visually impaired local people; and we would like to extend the service to anyone who, for whatever reason, who would like to listen rather than read about what is happening around Sleaford.”

Anyone interested should contact Howard on 01529414047 or 07760195429 or email: [email protected]