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Bankie Talk

08 May 2014

Established in 1989, Clydebank-based Bankie Talk is a charity which prepares and delivers a variety of talking newspapers for visually impaired people in the UK and further afield.

The project was set up to provide visually impaired people with access to local news coverage and events that they otherwise might rely upon relatives or friends to share with them.

Bankie Talk currently provides over 100 audio discs of the local newspaper per year and their Audio Youth Magazine is Britain's number one youth magazine for visually impaired people aged 16-24. Two issues of the magazine are produced each month, and these are downloaded by up to 8,000 visually impaired people.

Critical to the success of the Audio Youth Magazine is the charity’s partnership with five local secondary schools in West Dunbartonshire which provides volunteering opportunities for final year pupils who help produce the youth magazine.

Every year a new group of 120 student volunteers joins the project. They select, read and record articles from popular magazines and also take part in the editing and production process.  

In addition to developing their ICT skills and web based knowledge, students have the opportunity to enhance their social skills through team building exercises. They gain experience of public speaking, organising meetings and time management which will increase their chances of future success when applying for jobs or accessing further education opportunities.

The students’ efforts are acknowledged and the hours given to the project contribute to The Saltire Awards, a schemeBankie Talk 5 backed by the Scottish Government which formally recognises the commitment and contribution of youth volunteering in Scotland. Recently volunteers have also been successful in achieving Diana Awards. 

One example is Robert, a student who recognised the benefits of doing voluntary work and realised this might help him “get a job and get into university”.  He volunteered with Bankie Talk and his tasks included choosing articles for the magazine and recording and editing them.

An award from the Deutsche Bank Small Grants Fund in 2013 covered the cost of running two training courses for new volunteers; to teach microphone and presentation skills and editing and IT software skills.

Frank Duffie, Project Manager at Bankie Talk said “Finding funding for the training of volunteers is critical to the success of the Audio Youth Magazine project. Without it the project doesn’t happen.

“We are delighted to receive such great support for our audio magazine, which enables visually impaired people to keep up to date with the same popular youth magazines that sighted young people can read so easily and which are central to young peoples’ conversations and interests.

“In addition, the young people taking part in the project grow in confidence, self esteem and learn technical and life skills. The end result is an audio magazine full of articles for young people, selected and read by young people. This funding is much needed and appreciated and means we can continue to provide this much needed service”.

Robert said “I was always excited to get started on the new edition of the magazine and pick out a story that I hoped other young people would find interesting. It became one of the things that I enjoyed most about my last year of school.

“After I finished school I stayed on with the project for the rest of the summer to help finish off some of the magazines. During this time I learnt editing skills as well as recording skills that I still use today.

“One of the greatest things about the project was that once we finished a magazine it was given to the subscribers within a couple of days and we could see how our work made a difference to another person’s life - a feeling that truly is hard to describe”.

The project has had a profound effect on Robert “It’s played a huge part in my current career path as I now study at Glasgow Caledonian University doing Media and Communication. I am also volunteering once again for Bankie Talk as I now have more media experience and so I can give more back to the project.”

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