A couple of weeks ago, I ordered some plant seeds from an online seller. They came with a personalised note detailing care instructions. I read it twice. Not because the message was unclear but because I wanted to make the experience of receiving something handwritten last a little longer.
And that’s the feeling Australian families are hoping to conjure among aged care residents by taking part in 1,000 Notes of Friendship challenge.
Head of Be Someone For Someone, the Feros Care charity behind the initiative, Jo Winwood, wants to see more people 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”.
“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,” she says.
“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.”
Father of three Tony Betts sees the letters as an opportunity to build empathy in his three children, Tyson (12), Ava (11) and Isabella (8).
“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,” Betts says.
“We like to think of ourselves as individuals but this just hides the important dependencies that we all rely on as people.”
The family is now hoping to receive a return letter.
“The kids rightly pointed out that it’s not truly a social connection if the connection doesn’t extend in both directions,” says 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, who sent the project to her daughter’s day care, says it’s a huge opportunity for schools, educators and parents.
“Learning about the lost art of letter writing has been a wonderful lesson for my kids.”
Hawkins adds that there will be many people around the country currently having conversations about loneliness who might not be actively doing anything to help the situation.
Feros Care says the campaign has almost reached its initial goal of 1,000 letters in the first few weeks and is now adding some zeros to its target with plans to continue the project after the pandemic.
Winwood is calling on more members of the community to send in a note of friendship, which will be addressed and delivered to seniors receiving aged care services in the community and in residential care across the country.
Those who wish to take part can handwrite a card, letter or poem, or draw or paint a picture, and send to:
1,000 Notes of Friendship Campaign
PO Box 585
Participants hoping for a reply can include their address.Do you have an idea for a story?
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