Pen pal programs help reduce social isolation

Letter writing initiatives are connecting isolated older people with a network of writers across Australia.

A letter writing initiative is connecting older Australians who are socially isolated due to COVID-19 with a network of writers across Australia.

The Letterbox Project has been launched by Connected AU, an online platform to connect and engage.

The project aims to connect thousands of older Australians who have been excluded from their usual social networks during COVID-19 with a network of over 3,000 writers, including families and school groups.

Consumer peak body Council on the Ageing Australia supports the initiative and is calling on the community to register older family members, friends or neighbours who would like to receive written letters.

COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates said the initiative is important especially as Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions ease, however visitor restrictions in aged care are still in place.

“Meaningful social connection is central to everyone’s health and wellbeing, including older Australians,” Mr Yates said.

Ian Yates

“But older Australians living alone and those in aged care homes can often feel isolated at the best of times, let alone in the midst of a pandemic where they are encouraged to avoid company for their own safety,” Mr Yates said.

Connected AU founder Mea Campbell said receiving a letter from someone you’ve never met and who wishes to bring you joy is a wonderful feeling.

“It’s a sense of connection that is unique to letter writing, and it gives visibility and value to the recipient,” Ms Campbell said.

“The project resonates with so many people and organisations, the idea that those of us who are lucky to be healthy, and surrounded, can gift our time to someone whose experience might be more challenging,” she said.

Find out more information here.

Notes of friendship

Gold Coast-based initiative Be Someone For Someone has launched the 1,000 Notes of Friendship campaign to help brighten the day of seniors.

Doug Gorton receiving a letter as part of the 1,000 Notes of Friendship Campaign

The letters will be addressed and delivered to seniors receiving residential aged care across the country and home care services in the local community.

Be Someone For Someone head Jo Winwood is calling on the community to participate.

“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,” Ms Winwood said.

Find out more information here.

This story first appeared in Australian Ageing Agenda

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Tags: Connected-AU, cota-australia, ian-yates, letterbox-project, mea-cambell, Notes-of-friendship,

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