During these turbulent times, it's important to check in with your loved ones. Why not brighten their day with some meaningful post?
With social distancing restrictions in place around the world, millions have been adjusting to life separated from loved ones and familiar faces. In addition to this, the terrifying and unsettling realities of police brutality and systemic racism have rightfully made the headlines. Now - more than ever - is the time to check in with the people we hold nearest and dearest.
Discovering a letter from a loved one amongst the bills and junk mail on the doormat can instantly brighten your day; you see the familiar handwriting spelling out belly-warming words of positivity and dreams of future plans. You see the scrawled kisses at the end, holding more meaning than any quickly typed ‘x’s on an instant message.
In Leeds, local collective Party Mom Society have been reaching out by creating a pen pal network. Leaving thoughtfully put together packages on the doormats of old and new friends alike, the Moms provide friendship and support to their neighbours - sometimes along with homemade lemonade. The Party Mom Society are known for their accessible and inclusive parties that bring people together, but while partying is off the cards, they decided that letter writing would be a great way to stay connected and share art, film recommendations and general kindness to brighten each other’s days.
“It's been so lovely creating these alternative connections in this manic time,” expresses co-founder Caitlin. “Letter writing is such a beautiful way to stay connected with people and pass on a little happiness which a lot of people need right now. I would recommend it to anyone who needs a bit of a pick me up. My room is covered in pen pal's art which has really brightened up my quarantine.”
“Letter writing is such a beautiful way to stay connected with people and pass on a little happiness..."
Meanwhile, Bryony (AKA The Happy Post Lady) has been “Sending smiles to others through the post” with her personal letter writing service. With an arsenal of stationary, stickers, envelopes and kind intentions, Bryony writes to unsuspecting recipients on behalf of their loved ones. “I believe it's the littlest of things that make a difference to a person’s day,” Bryony says. “Receiving a hand-written letter could be the difference between an OK day and a brilliant day. There aren't many other things that bring joy quite like a bright, sticker-adorned letter on your doormat.”
That boost of serotonin that receiving a letter brings is also an added benefit for the sender. Steve Toepfer from Kent State University has studied the perks you get from penning letters. He states the regular act of writing thoughtful letters to loved ones will make “you feel happier, more satisfied, and if you’re suffering from depressive symptoms, your symptoms will decrease.” Sometimes a text or email just doesn’t quite cut it.
During the lockdown, Bryony has been sending more letters than ever to connect people and help reduce the number of people feeling lonely or isolated. Receiving a card or letter feels just as good on a mundane Tuesday as it does on your birthday, and since we can't see our friends and family as much as we'd like to at the moment, some meaningful post is more important now than ever. “Although we are very much physically apart at the moment,” muses Bryony; "emotionally, we have never been more connected."
"Emotionally, we have never been more connected..."
Similar initiatives have also addressed this kind thought on a national scale. The Mental Health Collective’s Kindness-by-Post initiative enables members of the public to sign up for free to send a card or letter with a message of encouragement to someone else in the UK and have someone allocated to send a card or letter to them.
Postal workers have been hit with heavy workloads over this period, yet The Royal Mail are still encouraging people to send post to their loved ones. Shane O’Riordain, a spokesperson for The Royal Mail, told The Huff Post UK: “During the coronavirus crisis, it’s clear people are increasingly looking to connect with friends and loved ones in a truly meaningful way. A carefully crafted, handwritten letter stands out against the backdrop of Zoom calls and WhatsApp chats at this time. The uplifting effect of receiving a handwritten card or letter can be palpable.”
Make sure you write a friendly “Thank You Postal Workers” message on your envelope and get writing to your loved ones this Summer.
To help this little movement of sending letters, we’ve collaborated with Northern illustrators to produce a bundle of 5 postcards for you to send to your nearest and dearest. To have a look, visit our store: www.nicepeoplemagazine.com/online-store
For hand-written letters to anyone who would like a smile sent their way, contact Bryony on her Instagram: @TheHappyPostlady.
To become pen pals with the Party Mom Society, message their Instagram: @PartyMomSociety
Words by Meg Firth
With thanks to The Happy Post Lady and Kit Gail