Can you remember the last time you received a letter? Not a bill or a circular or an appointment, but an actual, personal letter, just for you. Maybe it was typed, or handwritten. I know I can’t.
How about the last time you wrote a letter? We often send cards, sign bits of paper and send them back. But it’s not the same.
Letter writing has become a bit of a lost art-form. I’d bet that the majority of us rarely write anything by hand anymore, and anything more than a shopping list has our hands aching like we were back in GCSE English. Who knows how much a dozen first class stamps will set you back these days*? I last bought stamps a year ago to send Christmas cards, and I still have 5 in my wallet!
Allow me to take a small diversion for a moment. Think about your mobile phone. It’s always there, always on, waiting for you to unlock the screen (150 times a day on average, apparently). If you remember you need to ask your other half to pick milk up on the way home, it’s there. If you want to find out if your mum needs some new slippers this Christmas, it’s there. It’s fast, it’s convenient, and offers almost instant gratification – something we have become somewhat addicted to.
Now imagine not having your phone. Not just for a few hours or a day, but it’s gone, for good. Not only do you not have your phone, but you’ve had to move to a strange place and you don’t know anybody. That kind of isolation and loneliness borders on incomprehensible to many of us.
For many people who live in care and residential homes, that sort of isolation was bad enough, but when covid-19 came along it wiped out visits from friends and relatives. It was at this time that a local care home made a plea for ideas to help ease the loneliness, and Sharron Wilkinson came up with the idea of letter writing.
The first to write letters were volunteers from Clem’s Garden, a community group based in Lindley. Intended as a one-off letter rather than a flowing conversation, or pen-pal, system, letters were written about all kinds of subjects – home life, pets, hobbies and interests. And the care home residents thrived on these messages from the outside world.
With Christmas approaching, Sharron (Project Delivery Manager at Give…) wanted to spread the joy of letter-writing and letter-receiving further, to include multiple care homes and charities supporting vulnerable people. Give… smashed their crowdfunding target to ensure every person at the care homes and charities they support receives at least 2 personalised letters and a Christmas card, along with a small gift and a notebook containing samples of letters and drawings.
This is where you lovely people of Huddersfield come in. It isn’t too late to register to write letters for Give…! They also welcome emails, if you really can’t bear the thought of dusting off the old Parker pen and clearing some desk space. Personally, I think brightening someone’s day is worth a little hand cramp.
If you would like to Give…a few words this Christmas, find out more at https://thegive.co.uk/