Lockdown Isolation

Wivenhoe has been quiet this month. Walks by the river have become highlights of the week and it’s easy to feel isolated from family, friends and the rest of humanity. The good new is that a coronavirus vaccine may eventually be with us in 2021.

Meanwhile I’ve been thinking how much worse this situation of restriction and social isolation must be for those who are blind or visually impaired. Organisations such as the Colchester Talking Newspapers try to help, keeping recipients in touch with local news, delivered by friendly voices.

I’ve been a volunteer reader for the Talking Newspaper for about five years now. Until March 2020 we readers met in rotating groups of three, in a studio at Essex University to create a weekly edition for our recipients.

After the arrival of Covid-19 the studio recordings came to an end and for 20 weeks volunteer readers who felt able to do so made home recordings of the local news stories, taken as usual from the Gazette ( the local paper with whom we have an agreement). This must have been intriguing for the listeners, hearing lots of different and varied voices in one week, rather than the usual three at a time on the rota. Our director, Bob deserves a medal for sorting out the variations of sound quality he must have dealt with along the way. The studio opened up again for 6 weeks when the first lockdown eased, but now in November, and for the immediate future, we are back to ‘back bedroom recordings’.

Colchester and District Talking Newspapers is therefore still alive a well. Edition number 2400 was posted on November 19th, plans are underway for a special Christmas edition in December ( recorded from our homes of course) and then the volunteer team of trustees, readers, sound recordists, dispatchers and everyone else who helps, will work on into 2021.

If you know anyone with visual impairment who would benefit from receiving the Talking News, do get in touch – the details are here on the poster.

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