School of Cultural Studies and Humanities
Leeds Love Letters
In light of National Writing Day on 24 June 2020, English Literature student, Ali Thompson shares with us how letter writing can combat loneliness and how she created 'Leeds Love Letters' in order to unwind and help others.
During lockdown as students I’m sure we have all been inundated with a digital pile of work that’s been looming over us untouched for a while. Some may have experienced health scares, financial tension or even loss – and digital therapy or counselling doesn’t always work for everyone.
Back in February I started a nonprofit ‘social experiment’ if you will. I wrote letters for strangers, a small letter filled with encouragement and positivity to brighten their day and to remind them, they are worth it. It began as a way for me to feel better, I have no shame in admitting. I would write words for someone that I wanted to hear myself. Finding a stray letter addressed to you from some mystical stranger feels like the universe has your back, that things aren’t all that bad. The more I wrote the more cathartic the release. I was motivated by the promise that for someone, whoever they are and whatever state of mind they’re in, by finding a letter telling them they are loved could make the world of difference, it could make someone’s day or it could save a life.
Leeds Love Letters will have a small feature in the next issue of Nice People Magazine, in an article about how letter writing can combat loneliness. I will echo what I wrote for them here:
‘I think [letter writing] is a brilliant way to not only provide a remedy for loneliness but also to resuscitate a fading tradition. I used to think that only older people felt lonely, but that’s just not the case. I myself have been through bouts of loneliness, homesickness, doubting my self-worth and so on. Those feelings feel amplified because of the lockdown in which everyone will be struggling to mentally cope with isolation, both literally and figuratively. It’s confusing and difficult to address those feelings of loneliness, especially in this age of technology.’
On 24th June, it’s World Writing Day. As a ‘writing aficionado’, I urge you to try writing your own letter of love. It can be addressed to a friend, left for a stranger or even for yourself. The act of writing is not only therapeutic but it could provide some clarity on some unaddressed issues you’re trying to cope with. Just try it, trust me. You might make a hobby out of it.
Here is a link to the website (www.leedsloveletters.org) where (if you feel so inclined) you can catch ‘what’s next’ for love letters, and how you can get involved with writing you own love letters.
Or if you want to have a chat, share a great recipe with me or want to find out a little bit more about my letters, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe and happy writing!