A volunteer-led project, created to combat loneliness at the start of the Covid pandemic, has been formally established as a social enterprise. This has been possible after a busy year establishing the initiative, and now due to 12 month’s sponsorship provided by healthcare provider, and social enterprise, Locala.
The initiative is based on a simple principle – the joy of writing, and receiving, letters. The project founder, Sharron Wilkinson, describes Give… A Few Words as a "one-off positive" letter writing project, aiming to reduce isolation and promote positive wellbeing through words, art, positivity and kindness.
Sharron said: “The idea of words and letters being shared with others to help reduce feelings of isolation just seemed right at this present time. And really, who doesn’t love a letter landing on their doorstep or a personal email sent to them! I have been overwhelmed by the response to Give… A Few Words. It has resonated with everyone I think particularly given the year we have all lived through which has created so much isolation.
“I am delighted it has captured people’s imaginations, and that now I can commit to growing and developing the initiative on a more permanent basis. I am very grateful to Locala for their support which has been fundamental to its development.”
Since inception more than 1000 letters, arts, and crafts have been sent to isolated people. We have worked with four local schools, University of Huddersfield, Greenhead College, a business based in Huddersfield (with volunteers also coming from their sites across the UK), plus the Huddersfield Town Foundation with staff on their National Citizen Service programme.”
Feedback from letter writers, recipients, care homes, and community organisations has been phenomenal. Letters have been written in all sorts of ways by all sorts of people. There have been seasoned writers, people who have never written a letter before, and some who have chosen to draw pictures instead. People have shared their love of books, the great outdoors, musicals, travel, reading and sport, among many other things. All with someone they have never met, who desperately needs human contact.
Karen Jackson, Locala Chief Executive, said: “We are so pleased to be able to use Locala’s social impact fund to support this fabulous project. Locala colleagues have worked with Sharron throughout the past year, volunteering their personal time not only as letter writers, but to give support to administering the project. To be able to fund Give for the next 12 months is a great way to continue our support, and use the resources we have as a social enterprise to have an impact on loneliness and isolation, including for patients in the care of Locala services.”
Give currently operates throughout Kirklees, but has ambitions to grow further afield. Volunteer letter writers are matched with people in care homes, intermediate care settings, and from community organisations who are feeling isolated. Volunteers range from students, families, retired people, people who are unemployed, and business employees, with letter writers reporting feeling as much emotional wellbeing benefit as the recipients of the letters.
More information about Give can be found at www.thegive.co.uk.
For more information please contact Emma Dickens, Head of Communications and Engagement, Locala – [email protected], tel: 07763 556 451