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bringing Local News to the Blind and Visually Impaired

About HBTN

Help Patrons and Volunteers

Havant Borough Talking Newspaper, known as HBTN, was founded in 1993 to serve the people of Havant and surrounding areas. A map of the Havant Borough area and its Hampshire County Council Ward boundaries can be found in this link.

Situated in the County of Hampshire in the south of England, the Borough has a population of over 120,000 (2011 census) of whom about 29,000 are aged 65 and over. Statistics from the RNIB show that in 2011, 3.31% of people living in Hampshire were living with sight loss, equating to about 4,000 people in the Borough. Our aim is to reach out to those people and offer them a service so they can keep up-to-date with what is happening in their locality, and hopefully entertain them a little as well.

Each fortnight our dedicated volunteers produce and dispatch 60 minutes of local news in audio-cassette or memory stick format as a completely free service to our listeners. We also produce a quarterly magazine, Look Hear, containing music, quizzes, poems, stories, entertainment and interviews. Currently (2013) we have about 150 listeners but we would like to reach out to many more. Perhaps you know of someone who might benefit from our service? If so, please get in touch with us! You can find out how to reach us on our 'Contact us' page.

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Our History

The Charity‘s first recordings were made in 1993 in the music studio of Horndean school with the school staff being the only people allowed to operate the equipment. A number of difficulties occurred as a result although we never failed to produce a fortnightly edition despite some near misses! Later our own studio was first set up in the small upper floor of the Community Centre in South Street, Emsworth. Because this space was shared with other organisations, all of our equipment had to be capable of being dismantled for storage in dormer cupboards surrounding the room. This was just as well as a break-in meant that some other equipment was stolen but ours was untouched as it was locked away out of sight!

We outgrew this space after a few months and found space in a charity building in Leigh Park, Havant which gave us more room and where we were able to set up a more suitable studio layout. However, this too had its problems as the local youth saw it as an interesting target for vandalism and we had to put bars over all of the windows to prevent breakage! Assaults were made on the doors but fortunately, no one ever succeeded in actually gaining entry.

So again we moved lock, stock and microphones, this time to St Faith‘s Church house in Havant, sharing an upstairs room with the local youth theatre which they used for scenery storage. Not ideal, as scenery often blocked our entrance, but we survived until moving to our present studio some five years ago in East Street, Havant having negotiated a rental that we could afford as the premises were empty and had been unused for some time. Generous local companies such as Waitrose and individuals enabled us to raise the 15,000 needed for the move and so we have finally been able to settle in secure purpose-built accommodation, half-way through a ten year lease on the property.

Click on the next page to read how it all works in practice.

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