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New pen pal project aims to build community connections and reduce loneliness

17 March 2021

Community connections will be boosted through an innovative letter writing project launching in Kingston this month.

Kingston is the first local Council to sign up for the successful nation-wide Letterbox Project that links people together through handwritten letters and aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

Kingston Mayor Steve Staikos said Council was thrilled to be able partner with Connected AU to launch this ground-breaking new project in Kingston.

“We are incredibly excited to be a part of this important community-focused project and the first local Council to sign up to it in Australia,” said Cr Staikos. “Now more than ever our community need to feel connected and supported and the Letterbox project is a simple but innovative way of doing just that.”

The project, which will initially run for 12 months, offers a safe way for the community to send handwritten letters and support isolated people who need some extra connection.

Residents can either nominate themselves as a letter-writer or a letter-receiver for another registered participant living in their community. The program looks at fostering a sense of community connection, with local volunteers matched with residents.

“In today’s world, often the only mail we receive is a bill, so receiving a handwritten letter can provide a real boost to someone’s mental health and wellbeing,” Cr Staikos said. “A simple handwritten letter can be such a powerful reminder that you are not alone and that your community is here for you when you are feeling alone, or life gets tough.”

Although the Letterbox Project has only been running for a year it has received national acclaim with over 500 schools, organisations and individuals signing on as letter writers.

Connected AU founder, Mea Campbell believes the increased amount of social activities shifting onto digital platforms to comply with COVID-19 distancing measures, has forced many vulnerable community members to fall through the cracks.

“I knew that isolation and loneliness are ongoing, ever-present health and community issues, and with COVID-19 it was only going to get worse,” she said. “Finding different ways to connect became critical to our new way of life overnight.”

For Kingston residents who are able to get online, there are four Virtual Hobby Groups, providing safe and inclusive platforms for locals to join discussions on topics such as gardening, health & wellness, book clubs and social clubs.

“The Letterbox Project has already supported tens of thousands of lonely and isolated people, we’re excited to now see the Kingston community benefit from this simple but wonderful initiative,” said Mayor Staikos.

Anyone interested can register to write or receive a letter, and The Letterbox Project platform then connects them to someone else in Kingston. Letters are checked by the Letterbox project team before delivery to ensure they are positive and no personal privacy information is shared.

To sign up or find out more visit Connected AU.

 

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