Photo above is Judy Sarssam, Chair of EETN.
A happy group of Volunteers has returned to their recording Studio at Swail House after an absence of two years, while the virus held its sway, to continue recording the Epsom and Ewell Talking Newspaper (EETN), a free local news and magazine service for Visually Impaired residents of the borough.
Since the end of the first lockdown, a local team of dedicated Volunteers have been producing the EETN from their homes. The complicated procedure required careful management and organised deadlines, to enable the free service and free postal distribution to continue.
Every two weeks, Visually Impaired People (VIP) receive a wallet containing the Talking Newspaper on a memory stick, for which the charity can also provide an easy to use audio player.
People with a visual loss especially those who live alone, frequently feel and are, isolated as loss of vision results in loss of confidence to navigate the world outside their familiar home surroundings. The Pandemic has, of course, increased the isolation of everyone who lives alone and the restrictions have filled some elderly people with macular degeneration with so much anxiety that even now they remain imprisoned through fear of catching Covid.
Hence the good, kind efforts of the EETN Volunteers to bring the outside in by providing local news, magazine articles and Podcasts to entertain and absorb our many Listeners.
The team are hugely proud of the independent, volunteer-run, completely free service which has been available for nearly fifty years. Wallets are still sent to Listeners who have left the area but continue to take an interest in where they once lived and of course, they continue to enjoy the information and entertainment on offer.
Judy Sarssam, Chair of EETN and herself visually impaired said: “Being unable to read any longer is a huge loss and happily audiobooks are available but unless the VIP is computer literate the whole world of print is not accessible. The EETN reflects the different interests of those who choose the articles and thus there is always something of interest for every Listener. The youngsters so engrossed in the digital world cannot appreciate that even provided with a screen reader, one has to have not only skills, which many of the older population do not have, but a good amount of residual vision and time, to navigate that world. For the present elderly visually impaired VIPs it is wonderful to have instant access to such a rich pageant of material which the EETN offers.”
One Listener said “It is like welcoming old friends into their home regularly as the familiar voices are heard once again.”
If you have a family member, friend or neighbour whom you could tell about the EETN free service, please do so. Recipients of the EETN do not need to be officially registered as Blind or Partially sighted, they just need to have reached the point of sight deterioration when reading is no longer possible to do with ease. Bear in mind that they will not be able to read these words as you can.
If you know of anyone who would like to receive Epsom & Ewell Talking Newspaper please call 01372 721519 and leave a message and your call will be returned.
To learn more, visit https://eetn.org.uk