Some of my free time over the coming weeks will be spent writing letters! In a world of text, emails and emojis, I love receiving a hand written sentiment, and after coming across Alison and Brian, I have found a brilliant reason to put pen to paper.
When Brian was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2010, his friend Alison offered to write letters to cheer him up. Over the next two years, as Brians cancer moved from Stage III to IV, Alisons letters kept on coming.
The letters became part of Brian's recovery process, while Alison discovered a passion for writing she never knew existed.
Four years on, Brian is now cancer free, Alison is an author, and the two have a relationship that only the term 'best friends' can describe. The 100+ letters she wrote to him changed both of their lives and led to the creation of From Me to You!, a campaign to encourage people to write letters to friends, family and strangers who are suffering from cancer as a way to keep a connection, at a time when people feel most disconnected.
At From Me to You, they run letter writing workshops, speak at events and festivals and campaign for people to discover the art of letter writing, specifically to cancer sufferers. Their website hosts writing tips and inspiring stories from letter writers and receivers.
Their Donate A Letter scheme allows people who want to make a difference through something as simple as a letter, to write anonymous letters to cancer patients in hospital and so brighten their day. Writers from all over the world put pen to paper to connect with strangers and offer them a pure gift of kindness. The writers don’t know anything about the recipients other than they are in hospital undergoing treatment for cancer, the recipients don’t write back but the letters create a connection between two human beings.
Veronica Farley recently received a letter while in isolation in hospital. ‘Once family had gone I was all alone except for the letter. I read it so many times over the three days while I underwent treatment. I couldn’t believe that a woman on the other side of the world, who didn’t know me, had taken the time to support me. That letter made me feel less alone.’
The writers also tell us they get a lot from writing; makes them feel good to be doing something for someone else, gives them an opportunity to slow down their own lives as they write and takes up very little time. Writers send letters as often as they like, every week for some, others once a year, and they write as much or as little as they like – messages on postcards and in cards are as welcome as letters.
“People are shy and often embarrassed about writing letters to someone with cancer,” says Alison. “We aim to show them not only the huge difference that receiving a letter can make to the patient but also how to overcome the fear of not knowing what to say.”
If you would like to get writing, please visit their website https://www.frommetoyouletters.co.uk, where you can also find their social media link.
Check back to our challenges page soon, where we will be running a challenge for this very unique and thoughtful charity