Life Begins At » Handwritten letters flood in as people pen notes to stave-off isolation
Coronavirus Mental Health Retirement Living

Handwritten letters flood in as people pen notes to stave-off isolation

Handwritten notes are proving a valuable tool in the fight against loneliness during Covid-19 both for the recipient and the writer, with people penning notes by the thousands to brighten the day of some of our most vulnerable Australians.

Gold Coast-based charity Be Someone For Someone’s 1,000 Notes of Friendship campaign has almost reached its goal in the first few weeks and is now adding some zeros to its target with plans to continue the project after the pandemic.

Emma Young – Grade 1 student – Livingstone Christian College pens letter to a senior for the 1000 Notes of Friendship project

The campaign’s main goal was to help seniors who are particularly isolated during the pandemic but it also proving beneficial to those who have volunteered to write letters.

For Tony Betts and his three children, Tyson (12), Ava (11) and Isabella (8), it presented the ideal opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding isolation and a practical way to help solve the problem.

“These types of opportunities are important in building empathy towards others in our children.” said Mr Betts.

“To me this is one of the most important outcomes in initiatives like this because it provides future protection towards social isolation in our communities.”

“I had a lot to do with isolation when I worked as an occupational therapist in a rural New South Wales community and have seen first-hand how damaging it can be.”

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“I know it doesn’t take long to make the connection between someone’s level of isolation and their health and wellbeing more generally.”

“We like to think of ourselves as individuals but this just hides the important dependencies that we all rely on as people.”

Doug Gorton (87) receiving a letter as part of the 1000 Notes of Friendship Campaign

Jo Winwood, head of Be Someone For Someone, a charitable initiative by Feros Care to help tackle loneliness in Australia, is calling on the community to send a note of friendship and brighten the day of some of our most isolated seniors.

She said letters would be addressed and delivered to seniors receiving aged care services in the community as well as in residential care across the country.

“We want more people to join the crusade so that thousands of seniors can experience the joy of receiving a letter and take solace in the knowledge that people care,” said Ms Winwood.

“It’s a simple gesture, but the power of a handwritten letter – that personal touch from one human being to another – can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

“This is a terrible time for so many people who live alone or in a residential facility without visitors or access to their community, and this project is giving people an easy way to make a big difference.”

The Betts’ family are now waiting in anticipation of a returned letter.
 
“The kids rightly pointed out that it’s not truly a social connection if the connection doesn’t extend in both directions,” said Mr Betts.

“Whether the receivers decide to take us up on this or not, we all hope that the cards and the messages contained within them go some way to assisting the recipients in moving forwards in these difficult times.”

Bree Hawkins and her three children were among some of the first to post in their letters and drawings. Ms Hawkins sent the project to her daughter’s day care who took it on and she hopes more institutions will do the same.

“Learning about the lost art of letter writing has been a wonderful lesson for my kids,” she said.

“We live in society where everything is immediate so learning to appreciate the slower nature of letter writing, and the anticipation and excitement that comes with it, is invaluable.

“This project is a huge opportunity for schools, educators and parents. I think there would be a lot of people having conversations about loneliness right now but they may not be actively doing anything about helping the situation.

“1,000 Notes of Friendship makes it so easy because all the hard work is done for you – you just need to write or draw and pop it in the post.

“It’s just a beautiful project that benefits both the recipients and the writers and I encourage everyone to get on board.”

Participants can hand-write a card, letter or poem, or draw or paint a picture, and send to:

1,000 Notes of Friendship Campaign

PO Box 585
Byron Bay
NSW 2481

Be Someone For Someone will personal and post the card to a senior. If you’d like the opportunity of a return letter, include your address.

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