BBC HomeExplore the BBC
banner

BBC Radio 4 In Touch
30 September 2008

Listen to this programme

Factsheet of this programme
Transcript of this programme

Print this page

Factsheet

NAT WEST

The programme hear from listener June Bowden who encountered problems with her bank, Nat West, when moving home.

CONTACT

EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION HELPLINE (England)
Freepost RRLL-GHUX-CTRX
Arndale House
Arndale Centre
Manchester
M4 3EQ
0845 604 6610 - England main number
0845 604 6620 - England textphone
0845 604 6630 - England fax
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Wed 9:00 am-8:00 pm (last call taken at 7:45pm)

EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION HELPLINE (Wales)
Freepost RRLR-UEYB-UYZL
3rd Floor
3 Callaghan Square
Cardiff
CF10 5BT
0845 604 8810 - Wales main number
0845 604 8820 - Wales textphone
0845 604 8830 - Wales fax
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Wed 9:00 am-8:00 pm (last call taken at 7:45pm)

EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION HELPLINE (Scotland)
Freepost RRLL-GYLB-UJTA
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
Glasgow
G2 8DU
0845 604 5510 - Scotland Main
0845 604 5520 - Scotland Textphone
0845 604 5530 - Scotland – Fax
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Wed 9:00 am-8:00 pm (last call taken at 7:45pm)



NATIONAL THEATRE

Mani Djazmi went to a workshop at the National Theatre which encouraged visually impaired and sighted people to tell stories using sound alone.

CONTACT

NATIONAL THEATRE
National Theatre
South Bank
London
SE1 9PX

BOX OFFICE
Box Office opening hours 9.30am to 8.00pm Monday to Saturday.
Tel. 0207 452 3000
Fax 0207 452 3030

INFORMATION DESK
Information Desk opening hours 9.30am to 10.45pm Monday to Saturday
Telephone 0207 452 3400
Email info@nationaltheatre.org.uk
http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/


ERIC WESTBROOK
The programme talk to Eric Westbrook who was a deputy-head teacher when his sight started to deteriorate.

Eric was forced to give up teaching and has turned to puzzle setting to occupy his mind.

ERIC WESTBROOK’S WEBSITE
www.calendarpuzzles.co.uk



GENERAL CONTACTS

RNIB
105 Judd Street
London
WC1H 9NE
Helpline: 0845 766 9999 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
Tel: 0207 388 1266 (switchboard/overseas callers)
Web: www.rnib.org.uk
The RNIB provides information, support and advice for anyone with a serious sight problem. They not only provide Braille, Talking Books and computer training, but imaginative and practical solutions to everyday challenges. The RNIB campaigns to change society's attitudes, actions and assumptions, so that people with sight problems can enjoy the same rights, freedoms and responsibilities as fully sighted people. They also fund pioneering research into preventing and treating eye disease and promote eye health by running public health awareness campaigns.


HENSHAWS SOCIETY FOR BLIND PEOPLE (HSBP)
John Derby House
88-92 Talbot Road
Old Trafford
Manchester
M16 0GS
Tel: 0161 872 1234
Email: info@hsbp.co.uk
Web: www.henshaws.org.uk
Henshaws provides a wide range of services for people who have sight difficulties. They aim to enable visually impaired people of all ages to maximise their independence and enjoy a high quality of life. They have centres in: Harrogate, Knaresborough, Liverpool, Llandudno, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Salford, Southport and Trafford.


THE GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND ASSOCIATION (GDBA)
Burghfield Common
Reading
RG7 3YG
Tel: 0118 983 5555
Email: guidedogs@guidedogs.org.uk
Web: www.guidedogs.org.uk
The GDBA’s mission is to provide guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services that meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people.


ACTION FOR BLIND PEOPLE
14-16 Verney Road
London
SE16 3DZ
Tel: 0800 915 4666 (info & advice)
Tel: 020 7635 4800 (central office)
Web: www.afbp.org
Registered charity with national cover that provides practical support in the areas of housing, holidays, information, employment and training, cash grants and welfare rights for blind and partially-sighted people. Leaflets and booklets are available.


NATIONAL LEAGUE OF THE BLIND AND DISABLED
Central Office
Swinton House
324 Grays Inn Road
London
WC1X 8DD
Tel: 020 7837 6103
Textphone: 020 7837 6103
National League of the Blind and Disabled is a registered trade union and is involved in all issues regarding the employment of blind and disabled people in the UK.


NATIONAL LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND (NLB)
Far Cromwell Road
Bredbury
Stockport
SK6 2SG
Tel: 0161 406 2525
Textphone: 0161 355 2043
Email: enquiries@nlbuk.org
Web: www.nlb-online.org
Trustees from the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) and the National Library for the Blind (NLB) have agreed to merge the library services of both charities as of 1 January 2007, creating the new RNIB National Library Service.


EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION HELPLINE (England)
Freepost RRLL-GHUX-CTRX
Arndale House
Arndale Centre
Manchester
M4 3EQ
0845 604 6610 - England main number
0845 604 6620 - England textphone
0845 604 6630 - England fax
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Wed 9:00 am-8:00 pm (last call taken at 7:45pm)

EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION HELPLINE (Wales)
Freepost RRLR-UEYB-UYZL
3rd Floor
3 Callaghan Square
Cardiff
CF10 5BT
0845 604 8810 - Wales main number
0845 604 8820 - Wales textphone
0845 604 8830 - Wales fax
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Wed 9:00 am-8:00 pm (last call taken at 7:45pm)

EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION HELPLINE (Scotland)
Freepost RRLL-GYLB-UJTA
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
Glasgow
G2 8DU
0845 604 5510 - Scotland Main
0845 604 5520 - Scotland Textphone
0845 604 5530 - Scotland – Fax
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Wed 9:00 am-8:00 pm (last call taken at 7:45pm)


DISABLED LIVING FOUNDATION
380-384 Harrow Road
London
W9 2HU
Tel: 0845 130 9177
Web: www.dlf.org.uk
The Disabled Living Foundation provides information and advice on disability equipment.


THRIVE
The Geoffrey Udall Centre
Beech Hill
Reading RG7 2AT
Tel: 0118 9885688
Email: info@thrive.org.uk
www.thrive.org.uk
http://www.thrive.org.uk/gardening-for-partially-sighted-people.asp
www.carryongardening.org.uk
Thrive is a national charity, founded in 1978, whose aim is to research, educate and promote the use and advantages of gardening for those with a disability. Thrive’s vision is that the benefits of gardening are known to, and can be accessed by, anyone with a disability.
Thrive has been supporting blind gardeners for over 30 years, and established the Blind Gardeners’ Club with RNIB in 2006 to help gardeners share information and techniques. Membership of the club costs £9 a year.



The BBC is not responsible for external websites 

General contacts
Back to top


Transcript

IN TOUCH

TX: 30.09.08 2040-2100


PRESENTER: PETER WHITE

PRODUCER: CHERYL GABRIEL


White
Good evening. Tonight: Problems with a bank, but this time absolutely nothing to do with the credit crunch. And we'll be talking to the man who's come up with a 3D solution to losing his sight and retirement.

Now they say that moving house is amongst the most stressful things we ever do but for June Bowden it's not been the physical aspects of moving which have caused her such grief but the attitudes of the organisations she's had to deal with. And one in particular - her bank Nat West. June told me how it had all begun to go wrong.

Bowden
I moved flats in June and under the bank's instructions I wrote and I told them and they said they'd need a letter from me, which I knew, so I sent them a letter. They sent it back because it was unsigned because it was written by somebody else because I can't see to do it at all. When I got the letter back I sent them another letter, which I dictated to another person, they then said that wasn't good enough and said I needed to complete a form which involved a third person. I suggested to them that I get in contact with them direct using an e-mail address which they could give me a password. No that wasn't good enough because there was no e-mail facility. And they were still sending all my correspondence, including Braille statements and a chequebook, to my previous address.

White
So what this shows is that although you were a customer who it had been established wanted Braille information and therefore you were getting your Braille statements you were getting your correspondence in print?

Bowden
Indeed and I had to put that into an electronic scanner to read.

White
What would have solved this problem for you?

Bowden
For them to have agreed for me to contact somebody direct, not go through some silly automated switchboard where it's one for a cup of tea, two for a cheese sandwich and three for a banana. For me to arrange with them that when I send them any e-mails or letters they know they're from me because of a pre-arranged password, which I could use.

White
Now I suppose the nearest thing to this that exists is telephone contact which of course blind people are enabled to use but I take it you couldn't really set that up until you'd established this change of address.

Bowden
Well no that's right. If you do have telephone contact you can't seem to get through to a branch direct anymore, you have to get - you know it goes through some 0845 number or something.

White
So again it's one for a cup of tea, two for a banana.

Bowden
Yes. And I'm alright because I'm middle aged and fairly articulate and hopefully fairly compes mentes but many blind people are old and they can't cope with this nonsense.

White
So how do things stand at the moment June?

Bowden
I had this form last Friday saying I ought to go my local branch and I just got so fed up with it I thought well blow this for a game of soldiers I'm going to contact You and Yours, so that's what I did. They need to realise that one size does not fit all because we're not all the same. It's an indignity and it's wrong.

White
June Bowden. So why has it all been made so complicated apparently and what can Nat West do to put it right for June? Well the bank has no one available to appear on the programme but they have offered us this statement:

Nat West statement
For over 22 years Nat West has offered visually-impaired customers a range of services to help improve the way in which they conduct their banking. All these services are free of charge and available on request. These services include large print, Braille or audio taped statements and can really make the difference between someone being able to manage their finances through a bank or not. If it suits their circumstances customers can also use the bank's 24 hour telephone banking service which provides a real person on the end of the line providing a full range of banking services.

They also told us that they have asked someone from June's local branch to pop out and see her to ensure that they can get everything smoothly set up for her. Well June is still on the line. What do you make of what they've said both in that statement and what I've just added?

Bowden
Well it'll be nice if somebody actually could come out and sort it out but it's a shame that it's had to get to this point. And they really did take no notice of what I had told them. And 22 years of providing help for visually-impaired people doesn't mean that they provided appropriate help for this visually-impaired person and I repeat the fact that I had to involve three people in helping me to sort this mess out, excluding yourselves, did not go anyway near to protect my security.

White
June Bowden, thanks very much for telling us about it. And we would like to hear what happens in the outcome and whether you do get set up to your satisfaction.

Now theatre is something which is becoming increasingly accessible for blind and partially-sighted people with more performances being audio described. The world of acting though is still very much a visual one with many blind actors frustrated at the lack of mainstream roles. Well the tables were slightly turned a short while ago when a group of visually-impaired and sighted people took part in a workshop organised by the National Theatre which encouraged them to tell stories by using sound alone. Our reporter Mani Djazmi went along to hear them in rehearsals and find out how the blindees got on with the sightees.

Workshop organiser
This workshop's taking an oblique unusual look at storytelling. It's looking at it through sound and words rather than the usual predominance of image that is prevalent in film and TV and quite often theatre.

Russell
I'm Keith Russell, I'm one of the visually-impaired participants in this week's course. The group that I was in we had a theme of war. We were working with the computer and the technical sound effects to create a scene of a war - you had explosions and you had screams, cries of people dying and then there was music faded in to give a fantastic effect.

Oshodi
My name is Maria Oshodi. On this project I am a director and a facilitator. I'm visually-impaired and I've a background in theatre making. We wanted to gather together with the National Theatre education department initially visually-impaired people but then we opened it up to sighted participants as well and to bring them together to explore sound and text in order to sort of generate an experimental sort of performance based on what we heard played with during these four days. And it's really just to have fun I suppose.

Actuality from workshop

We could see the French soldiers and one night a Frenchmen started to sing. He was a wonderful tenor. None of us dared to shoot and suddenly we were all looking out from the trenches and applauding. And the Frenchman said: Merci. It was peace in the middle of war and the strange thing was that just a few kilometres northwards the terrible battle of the Somme was going on.

Fry
My name's Gareth Fry and I'm a sound designer and I've been working here with Maria with the participants to look at ways of telling story through sound. They've each brought in a piece of text which is meaningful to them and we've asked them to work out what is the key fundamental essence of that text and from that we've got them to edit down their text to that essence and an emotional word that summarises the whole text that they've chosen. And then from that we're looking at various ways of telling that emotion through sound.

Actuality from workshop

Oshodi
Visually-impaired people sometimes have an experience of not having enough access to mainstream facilities and that is even on a social level but I think a project like this has brought people together from so many different walks of life and because of that visual impairment is being integrated in a subtle way and engendering respect. I think that's ultimately good for visually-impaired people to experience that coming from the sighted participants in the room. You could just feel the quality I think of the relationships and the dynamics.

Actuality from workshop

Vox pops of participants
The fact that there is non sighted people in the group that makes you more aware to use your ears and your spatial awareness. For instance on our last piece if we was all sighted we could just say oh go over there and a sighted person would know exactly where I mean them to go. With visually-impaired people obviously you have to be precise as to where you want them to stand and be at any one time.

And they hear things so differently to you and they really open your eyes to what the sound actually does for people and how I wasn't aware that the sound really does take a big part in the storyline and the storytelling and things like that. So I've taken a lot out of it.

I don't think it's been a problem being sighted or visually-impaired because the point of the exercise is to work with sound, which you don't need your eyes for anyway.

White
And our reporter at that National Theatre workshop remaining uncharacteristically silent but he was there, was Mani Djazmi.

And we stay with the theme of self-realisation. Eric Westbrook is a teacher, indeed he was a deputy head, and tried to go on teaching for as long as he possibly could after his sight began to deteriorate. Ultimately though he had to stop and was presented with the problem of how to cope with an active mind, plenty of energy but perhaps not enough to do with it. Well he's come up with what seems like an unusual solution and he's joining us from our Coventry studio to tell us about it.

Eric, this stemmed initially I think from your donations to various charities and in a way wanting to do more.

Westbrook
Hello Peter. It just occurred to me in hearing that last article that there are those that are blinded and there are those that are sighted but I come in the middle and I think I'm blighted.

White
So you're kind of - that's your definition of partially-sighted presumably.

Westbrook
Yes, partially-sighted going on blind. But to answer your question. I give some contributions in a very modest way, I have to say Peter, to four or five charities. RNIB were extremely helpful in the last few years of my teaching, enabling me to carry on a bit longer. I'm phoned up occasionally by somebody from a charity, it might be Water Aid, Action Aid, Oxfam, saying Mr Westbrook would you consider increasing your direct debit by a pound. And how can you refuse because these are brilliant organisations doing wonderful work and you want to support.

White
But you want to do something a bit more proactive.

Westbrook
Yes and I wanted to try and make a bit more money than my pound ever could do and I decided to invent something, thinking I still have half a brain, and put it at their disposal.

White
Which was a 3D puzzle. Can you explain - I have enough trouble with 2D puzzles, as a totally blind person, can you just explain to me what that is in as lay terms as you can?

Westbrook
Sure. I have problems with 2D puzzles as well - people read out the clues and you try and visualise the puzzle. A three dimensional puzzle is a huge advantage if you ever have been stuck in a corner of a two dimensional puzzle, as I have been often, because there you are you can't do the clues, you haven't got any letters and then suddenly down from the ceiling comes a word and plants a letter right where you need one. So a 3D puzzle has - if you imagine a block of flats perhaps, if you were looking at a block of flats and saw all the windows and imagined a letter in all those windows that would be like two dimensional puzzle but if you could then walk round the block of flats and see letters in all the other windows on the sides and the back that would give you more of an idea. But then if you went into the block of flats you'd find every room had a letter because the words go up and down, away from you and across.

White
And this is something that you can do presumably in an online situation?

Westbrook
The puzzles are online at calendarpuzzles.co.uk, which is a very basic website, it was all I could afford to get someone to transfer my pdf file designs into the website itself, which they did very nicely. You then just download a puzzle, you could see it on screen and there are good controls on the pdf screen, you get very good sharp enlargements, so if you have some vision left like me you can access that on screen. But you cannot yet interactively enter your letters, you would have to download, print off and write on the answer sheets and send them back to me and I'll be delighted to look at them.

White
Yeah, I mean you can see the problem that - you see what I'm going to ask you fairly soon - here you are a visually-impaired person doing this scheme, how easy is it for blighted, as you call them, or indeed totally blind people to access these puzzles?

Westbrook
I think somebody with some vision left could manage, could do it. Somebody with no vision at all would almost certainly need the help of somebody. But as the project develops I think we can maybe find somebody who can help me to make that site much more accessible. There's a certain irony obviously isn't there.

White
Well there is. We'll put that on hold just for the moment and obviously we'd love to hear from people who might like to help you realise that. What of course I need to know is how does that make money for anyone because that was the original idea?

Westbrook
The puzzles are free, there's no charge, it's just a case of people getting to know where they are and having a bash. But I do ask people if they enjoy a puzzle, that's a large part of the thing, it is about having fun doing a puzzle, or even if they enjoy just a wacky clue to say would you consider - consider doing something for a person or a group in need. And that might be an action or it might be a donation and the five charities that I contribute to have direct links on the site and somebody could go to them, see what they're doing and say right that terrible clue was worth 2p, I'll give 2p.

White
So in fact you're doing a kind of radio head or Stephen King and trusting people to make a contribution?

Westbrook
Well I would be extremely happy for somebody to come on to the site and just enjoy the puzzles. But I'd be ecstatic if they would think I'm not going to give money to a stinking rich rock band, however good they are and they are very good, but I'm going to put that money into a wonderful organisation that really makes a difference.

White
And you've got some fairly top rated crossword puzzlers haven't you, helping you - submitting things?

Westbrook
Er indeed. As I was struggling in the development of it, it occurred to me to have the cheek, the temerity, to contact my all time favourite compiler who is Araucaria in the Guardian and he's John Graham. And I phoned him up one Sunday afternoon and he was the most wonderful lovely man and he said send me the puzzle. So I was really excited, e-mailed him this, e-mailed him that and waited, an e-mail back on Monday morning said - I could only do three of them. What? My hero. And then he said - I don't really like hard puzzles.

White
Well they're much easier to set than they are to do.

Westbrook
You're absolutely right. The difficulty is to set the puzzle where it entices the person in and then once they're in they've got to stay in until they do it because they get motivated to finish it. So that changed my view completely and he had some really good ideas which I followed up and he was then happy to write a forward for the puzzle, which was brilliant.

White
Right, well we're really hopeful that people will come up with an idea of how to access these for people. Eric Westwood, thank you very much indeed. And there are details about Eric's website with our action line, so you can contact him and we'll give you the details in a moment.

Westbrook
Thank you Peter.

White
And finally, plenty of reaction to our item last week about the issue of shared surfaces between pedestrians and other vehicles.

Listeners' reactions
As a registered blind person and a guide dog owner the actions that Guide Dogs for the Blind are proposing are excellent and I hope they do carry out their threats to take these people to court. The argument against was rather lame and feeble.

In Touch could invite shared space advocates to describe the advantages of this concept and ask them to demonstrate their confidence by walking across such an area blindfolded. If they were a trifle reluctant I'm sure that Peter or Mani could offer to hold their hand. A reluctance to take part would indicate their doubt in the concept and if they were brave enough to take up the challenge I'm sure that the experience would cause them to revise their opinion.

White
We'll give that proposal some very careful thought.

Those contributions from M. Thackerel and David Bates.

That's it for this week. If you want to tell us or ask us about anything we've been covering tonight call us on 0800 044 044. From me, Peter White, my producer, Cheryl Gabriel, and the rest of the team, goodbye.



Back to top


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy