Published:
September 25, 2015
Long-running Burnham charity helping visually impaired shuts down

A long-running Burnham-On-Sea charity which has provided audio news to blind and visually handicapped people for over 30 years is set to close.

Sounds and Voices Talking Newspaper Burnham-On-Sea has operated for 33 years, providing recipients with memory sticks featuring recordings of local news articles, features and interviews.

Some of the stories were sourced from Burnham-On-Sea.com, along with other news providers but this week's bulletin - its 800th - is the group's final one and the charity is being wound up.

John Bryan, President of the group, pictured right with contributor Tony Deahl holding the memory sticks, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "It's very sad to be stopping after 33 years, but unfortunately there are dwindling numbers of people who use the service."

"We had over 130 people at one time receiving the recordings every fortnight, but now we're down to just 15. It's no longer viable."

"One of the reasons for the downturn is stricter privacy and data protection rules which prevent doctors, social services and nursing homes from sharing personal data with us about when visually handicapped people move into the area."

John added that the charity also has had to raise ever-increasing funds to keep running. "We've had to raise over £2,000 a year to pay for both insurance and rent costs for using the Town Council Chambers for our recordings. It's sad to see it go after so long - it's really regrettable - but we have done what can and now is the right time to call it a day."

He thanked the charity's 40 volunteers who have spent many hundreds of hours in helping to run the service. The charity's equipment is being disposed of, some of it going to similar services in Weston and Bridgwater.

.LOOKING BACK AT 33 YEARS OF RECORDINGS

Over the years, Burnham-On-Sea.com has featured the audio service many times.

Those interviewed have included MPs, head teachers of local schools, local authors, local yachtsmen, the matron of Burnham Hospital, and many others from local groups and charities.

In 2010 and in 2014, Burnham's then-MP Tessa Munt was interviewed for the service, as reported here, by Tony Deahl, a regular editor.

In 2010 and 2011, Sounds and Voices brought pupils from King Alfred School into the recording studio for a special feature on local youth, pictured below, and reported here.

The service was also featured in 2008 here when John Bryan interviewed visitors to a volunteer fair, pictured right.

An interview with Burnham-On-Sea author Andy Cruickshank was also featured in 2013, as reported here.

And in 2012 Brean parish council chairwoman Joan Jackman was the focus of the service, as featured here, when she spoke about her community work and the publication of her book.

 


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