Omagh and District Talking Newspaper has received a £3,907 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme. It is part of a Big Lottery Fund grants roll out of £743,207 to 95 groups across Northern Ireland including £34,088 to five groups in the Omagh area. (See full list of awards)
The organisation provides a free talking newspaper service – audio recordings of two local newspapers – for visually impaired people in and around Omagh. They are using the £3,907 to carry out a review of the current service by volunteers and provide additional audio equipment.
Hugh Ward, chairperson of the group, said: “Omagh and District Talking Newspaper is delighted to have been awarded this Big Lottery funding. We rely on a small number of enthusiastic volunteers who meet regularly to record items from local newspapers, copy and distribute them to over seventy listeners from a large rural area, so we needed this funding to support them.
The group sends the Talking Newspaper out weekly on memory sticks upon request to anyone registered with a local authority as blind or partially sighted, or certified by an optician or doctor as being unable to read N12 print. Most members are referred through the Sensory Support Team in the Western Health and Social Care Trust. They can also provide listeners with audio machines if needed. They have been providing the service in Omagh and the surrounding area for many years.
“Referrals have been increasing steadily over the past year in particular and this Big Lottery funding helps us to meet the increasing demand and continue to provide a great service to all those who require it,” Hugh said.
“Our listeners say the Talking Newspaper helps to keep them up to date and in touch with what’s going on locally so they can take part in local community events and find community services and information. That helps them to feel less isolated and it improves their mental and physical health. This is a vital service for those who rely on it.”
Margaret Black, an older person from a rural area outside Omagh, looks forward to receiving the Talking Newspaper weekly: “I really enjoy listening to the talking newspaper. It’s good to know what is going on in the community around me and there is always a little bit of light entertainment included.”
Other Omagh area projects
McClintock Children’s Centre, in Seskinore near Omagh, provides breakfast clubs, pre-school education and afterschool’s clubs to children aged two years to 11 years. They are using the £9,522 to buy new equipment for the centre.
Omagh Ethnic Communities Support Group delivers support services and training to members of ethnic minority groups. They received a grant of £3,805 to run courses in CV writing, improving English language skills, health and safety, child protection and food hygiene.
CKS Senior Citizens Club is a group of older people in the Omagh area who meet weekly to socialize at the CKS community centre. They are using the £8,774 to allow the group to develop a health club.
Omagh Mens Support Group (OMSG) offers men a safe and secure place where they can talk. They are using the £8,080 grant to provide a range of activities to support the members including residentials, therapies and guest speakers at events.