Remember when you couldn’t just send an email and had to wait, in anticipation, for a letter to arrive with the postman? Keeping in touch with friends and loved ones by letter was once the norm for Aussies and people right around the world. But in an ever-evolving digital world, it seems the art of letter writing is being lost.
The good news is a new letter-writing initiative for older Australians who are feeling isolated and lonely during Covid-19 is being rolled out across the country. The idea is to connect them with a network of over 3,000 letter writers, including families and school groups. Connected AU and the Council of the Ageing (COTA) are calling on members of the community to get involved.
COTA Chief Executive Ian Yates said the Letterbox Project is an important initiative at a time when the rest of the country is beginning to open up, but restrictions remain in place at aged care facilities, and older Aussies are encouraged to self-isolate at home.
“Meaningful social connection is central to everyone’s health and wellbeing, including older Australians,” Yates said. “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.
“COTA is proud to support this grassroots initiative that helps build connections in the community. We encourage everyone who knows an older person who may be feeling isolated, like those living alone or in aged care, to nominate them to receive a letter by visiting Connected AU’s website. For those who are not digitally connected they can contact COTA on 1300 COTA AU (1300 26 82 28) and we’ll help them register.”
Mea Campbell, the founder of Connected AU, said she created this project in memory of her late grandfather. “My thoughts during the initial stages of Covid-19 were of him, and of how distressing he would have found this experience; 95 years of age, living alone, no capacity to engage with technology,” Campbell said. “I realised there are so many other people in that experience and it led me to create The Letterbox Project, and then Connected AU.”
She continued: “In times like this, receiving a letter from someone you’ve never met who is thinking of you and wishes to bring you joy is a wonderful feeling for anyone. It’s a sense of connection that is unique to letter writing, and it gives visibility and value to the recipient.”