Covid forces Strathkelvin Talking Newspaper to shut after 40 years

A lack of volunteers has sadly forced Strathkelvin Talking Newspaper to close after serving people with impaired vision for the past 40 years.

Strathkelvin Talking Newspaper for the Blind volunteers in 2011 at first digital recording

The pandemic has been blamed for the sharp downturn in volunteers.

Pre-covid, the talking newspaper association was issuing more than 90 free recordings each week to visually impaired people throughout East Dunbartonshire, together with recordings going outwith the area to people who had moved home but still wished to hear the local news in the Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs Herald.

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Alistair Aitchison, Secretary said: “As the pandemic spread the recording service was stopped and in September this year an attempt was made to restart it.

"Sadly, the number volunteers able to return had greatly reduced.

With the reduced level of volunteers, it was sadly realised that the Association could not manage to continue with the management of the charity which required the constant demand to maintain and purchase equipment for the studio and the recipients .

"Fund raising was an essential part of the administration to ensure the Association could purchase equipment and contribute, by donation, to the use of the office accommodation within Deafblind Scotland.”

He added: “The Association are very grateful to all the local organisations and our recipients over the years who donated money to our charity ensuring that the Association could continue to provide the free service to the visually impaired.

“We understand that many of our recipients will be saddened by the decision to close this service after 40 years of recordings of the Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs Herald.”

The charity will wind up on March 31, 2022.

The Strathkelvin Talking Newspaper Association was the brainchild of Alice Mackenzie, the Librarian at the William Patrick Library and Andy Pattison the then editor of the Kirkintilloch Herald.

This took place in 1981, The International Year of Disabled people. Funding for the venture was received from groups including Kirkintilloch Soroptomists and this provided the equipment necessary to produce the recordings. The first recordings were made in the library on cassette tapes.