Early in lockdown the charity where I worked were contacted by a care home, who were looking for ways to alleviate some of the isolation and loneliness faced by many of their residents who were unable to meet their friends and family. Together with the care home, we came up with the idea of letter writing and shortly afterwards Give…a few words was born.
To begin with, the care home residents were matched up with some of the Clem’s Garden volunteers. Clem’s Garden’s ethos is all about flowers, community and kindness, and they were already active supporting isolated people in the community.
The ideas of words and letters being shared with others to help reduce feelings of isolation just seemed right at the time.
It was then all about keeping up. We were helped to get a little bit of funding from One Community (Net Funding) and supported by officers in the Democracy Service at Kirklees Council and Locala. We also ran a successful Christmas crowdfunding campaign with Growing Great Places, which is another Democracy Service programme and received support from More in Common (part of the Jo Cox Foundation).
The idea of letter writing spread wider and the response has been phenomenal. Some people found the joys of letter writing for the first time, some were more prolific seasoned writers, all putting pen to paper, keyboard to monitor.
People have shared their love of books, the great outdoors, musicals, travel, reading, sport and many other things.
By Christmas 2020 we had 160 volunteer letter writers, with an extra 110 through our Christmas campaign, four schools of 4 to 11 year olds, 35 staff from a business across six sites in the UK, as well as the Huddersfield Town Foundation and their academy.
The exercise of writing based on positivity, really makes you think. It helps everyone from a mental health point of view. Writing positive stories helps not just the recipient, but the writer as well.
Spreading positivity through writing letters is something everybody can do. We’ve all got something to give.
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Thank you to Sharron for sharing this story after participating in one of our “How can more people come together to make local places better?” online workshops for Kirklees citizens.