A COMMUNITY newspaper has found a new way to help people with visual impairments, dyslexia or disability stay in the loop.

The Talking Mercury newspaper was set up by local woman Pat Farrar 17 years ago, and has been helping deliver local news into people’s homes every week ever since.

Thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers, who read, record and deliver the audio ‘newspaper’, people who can’t read a standard paper can stay abreast of what’s happening in their area.

And now, thanks to fundraising by its volunteers, and donations from local families, groups and businesses, the paper has moved from recording onto audio cassette to MP3s.

Donations from the family of the late Betty Webb – who received the Talking Mercury – the Ladies’ Friendly Darts Group, the Knit and Natter Group, Truly Scrumptious and several other local organisations, have enabled the paper to buy new recording equipment and listening devices.

The devices, which cost around £25 each, are specially designed for people who have limited mobility, are blind, or have a visual impairment, and the paper is delivered on USB sticks once a week.

“A lot of our listeners, especially older people, were concerned about the switch, but it’s gone really smoothly,” said longstanding volunteer Sue Norman.

“We had piggy-backed along on our old equipment for so long, with everything going crazy and breaking, so it’s great to have a new system that works.”

Light enough to carry to bed if you’re unwell, or out to the garden if you fancy some sun, the device has large, easy-to-use buttons, and features a headphone socket so it can also be used while travelling or in hospital.

She said the service is a great resource, and can also be a big help to older people, those with Parkinson’s, stroke, dyslexia, or who care for a friend or relative and don’t have time to sit and read a paper.

“It’s not just news, it’s company. It’s nice to hear another voice,” she said.

To subscribe for free to the Talking Mercury, telephone Sue Norman on 01646 692440 and leave a message.