We weren’t sure, as we sat at a table in Brighton Waterstones with the From Me to You banner behind us, whether anyone would come over to talk. Brian and I were there for a day of letter writing, hoping to engage the public in our campaign and get them writing letters. We had littered Brighton with flyers promoting the day, littered the internet with social media posts and told everyone we knew within a twenty mile radius to pop in and say hello. But we couldn’t be sure if anyone would.
We needn’t have worried.
First a lady came over, bringing with her one of our flyers and asking whether she could take away a letter-writing kit for her daughter. Then friends from Brighton’s 4Cancer popped in to talk about our future joint project. 4Cancer organise sporting events to support fundraising ventures which in turn provide activity breaks and respite holidays for cancer patients and their families. We hope to work with them on an exciting postcard project which will foster closer links between donors and beneficiaries. An ex-colleague of mine, Toby Buckle, then joined us, with a multitude of ideas and contacts for how we could spread our net further in Brighton. While this was all good, we hadn’t actually written any letters yet, which wasn’t so good.
And then a tweet arrived from @freyathlon, a lady we met at one of our London workshops. The tweet told us that the BBC had promoted a plea from a Sheffield family asking for postcards to be sent to their 2 year old daughter, Jessie, who has spent the majority of her short life in hospital suffering from cancer. The postcards were to decorate her walls and to teach her 5 year old sister about places in the UK and abroad. Waterstones immediately donated postcards and we spread the word around the shop, asking people if they could take a few minutes to write something. The response was overwhelming. People didn’t just take a few minutes, people put their heart and soul into writing the postcards. One lady asked for a blank card and took out her box of paints and decorated the card, writing a beautiful message on the reverse; a group of students asked where they could volunteer to do more of the same in Brighton; and someone else said that their English wasn’t very good and so hunted out a dictionary in the shop to write their message.
At the end of the day we had 22 pieces of post to send, both to Jessie and for our Donate A Letter campaign. Brighton had done us proud and embraced the message that letters, cards and postcards can help us to connect with people at a time of need, even when we don’t know the recipients.
Our next letter-writing day will be on Mon 3rd July at Brighton & Hove Jubilee Library from 11am to 5pm. Come to say hello, pick up a letter-writing kit and join us to write a letter