TUCKED neatly away in a state-of-the-art studio in Stourbridge is a project which brings a lifeline to thousands of people across the borough.

For more than 30 years the Black Country Talking Newspaper and Magazine has been providing a weekly talking newspaper to people who are blind or who have sight loss from its base at the Pocklington Trust Resource Centre at the Mary Stevens Centre, off Hagley Road, Oldswinford.

A dedicated team of volunteers – organised by the magazine’s co-ordinator Claire Bayley – ensure around 1,000 CDs are distributed across Dudley each month.

Claire, an employee of the Thomas Pocklington Trust which works to improve the quality of life for people with sight loss, previously worked at BRMB and has helped to turn the talking newspaper into a lively weekly digest of the week’s news.

She is assisted by volunteers who trawl the local media throughout the week – a key part of which is the Stourbridge News – before deciding what to cover.

The news is then recorded and, together with events, issues and comment, is converted into a CD of around 70 minutes - with emphasis given to subjects which interest those with sight loss.

Volunteers typically each give around three or four hours of their time every week and the venture, which runs five days a week, is part-funded by Dudley Council and through donations sent in by listeners.

Earlier this year, the studio’s technical equipment went digital and now comprises a cutting-edge system with fewer controls.

Claire said: “To many people, what we do has become their link to the outside world. We’re able to bring news, sport, tips, birthday dedications and so on to people who, because of their sight loss, may have no other means of getting that information.”

As well as the weekly CD, the team also produces a monthly magazine containing extra features such as interviews with local people, quizzes, recipes and gardening tips.

Veterans of the Iraq War who were blinded on duty have also been interviewed.

Both the CD and the magazine are free to borough residents, with no postage costs.

To receive a copy, or find out more about volunteering or the Trust, call Claire on 01384 889884 or email claire.bayley@pocklington-trust.co.uk