Letters Against Isolation – Humanity at work in a crisis

I am finding the Covid-19 virus, said with true British understatement, a little bit tiresome. Add to that the political trumpery, the continued presence of institutionalised racism and the renewed assault on human rights, especially those of women, and the world seems a pretty scary place right now. And then you read about Letters Against Isolation and a small rainbow of positivity presents itself and lifts you up.

I found out about Letters Against Isolation on a local neighbourhood website where some other good citizen had shared it, and immediately was struck by what a good idea it was, especially after reading “I am the Messenger” and Milla’s story. Two girls from the USA, Shreya and Saffron have set out to provide a conduit for people around the world to send letters to the elderly residents of care homes, inspired by the support that they are offering their own self-isolating grandparents.

You sign up, they email you with a volunteer number and then they give you access to a spreadsheet with a list of care homes whose residents would love a letter and you enter your number in a space and commit to sending that care home’s resident an uplifting letter to brighten their day. Simple.

Our Letters Against Isolation, ready to go!

It doesn’t take an empath to realise how important human contact is to the elderly but I had some personal experience of this as I volunteered when I was at university to visit a little old lady once a week called, delightfully, Mrs. Bunn. She was always surprised to see me but always let me in, telling me the same tales week after week, an especial favourite being her conviction that her neighbour was digging under her house. She would sit there with her head slightly tilted and whisper, “Listen! Can you hear that? He’s digging under my floorboards!”

Whether or not this was the case, and I didn’t really hear any digging while I was there, the conviction on Mrs. Bunn’s face showed that she wholeheartedly believed it and so, I never contradicted her on this, opting instead for a sympathetic and non-committal “Mmm..” which seemed to satisfy.

So, with dear old Mrs. Bunn clearly in mind, this Sunday morning was spent writing out some kind words, getting my youngest to draw some colourful pictures and making sure that these letters were ready to be mailed. And I found this decidedly satisfying.

It didn’t take me long. I wrote about my activities and Fall colours and how I hoped they, the possible recipients, were well. We added, with the drawing, some pictures of beautiful trees from our Fall walks (see Blog Spot). If you are lacking inspiration, Shreya and Saffron provide some exemplars of letters, cards, postcards that have previously been sent so that you can get some ideas.

And so, tomorrow, our letters will be winging their way to a care home to be gratefully received by some resident and I can’t help but indulge myself in imagining their face as they open it up and read our words, smile at my son’s drawing, revel at the beauty of nature in the Fall.

There is so much that is good about Letters Against Isolation:

  • Rather selfishly, the way that it has made me feel;
  • The chance it gave me to get my son to do something simple which would help someone who needed it, even if it was just a quick drawing;
  • The happiness that will be spread by a small deed that took a minute of my time but may make someone else’s day;

Hope. That’s what it gives. And Shreya and Saffron are advocates for hope and this is perhaps the most important and positive thing to take away from this blog: that these girls are young and that they have thought of doing this themselves and that they have made it happen. They have organised people globally to help others globally; they have shown leadership and compassion and organisation and this is to be applauded, yes.

But also, what cannot be underestimated, without sounding too dramatic is that these girls are a part of the future for this world, their ideals and their attitudes will be carried forward and this fact makes me feel the happiest and the most hopeful.

Thank you, Shreya and Saffron and Letters Against Isolation. Thank you.

And thank you also to the wonderful Mr. Tom Allsopp who has allowed me rather chivalrously to use his meaningful words of hope as an image in this blog. Check out his YouTube channel for more of his exceptional poetry and check back here for a blog about other creative people I have had the good fortune to meet on my travels, featuring Tommy Tall Tales himself. Tom has also had the honour of being included in a book of pandemic poetry, not so much viral verses as words to inspire and comfort – click on the link for more information.

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