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Ministry of Loneliness: distributing letters to those who are likely to be feeling lonely

onthemend Member Posts: 1 Listener
Loneliness impacts a lot of people and it can be vey isolating , according to AGE UK: "3.6 million older people in the UK live alone, of whom over 2 million are aged 75+ and 1.9 million older people often fell ignored or invisible." Mathilda, talks about the project on the mend and how it's supporting people who feel lonely.

                                            Can writing a postcard help loneliness?

As a society we are more connected than ever before online, yet we are reporting higher levels of loneliness. Loneliness has negative effects on both mental and physical health and is an increasingly serious issue. MP Jo Cox brought this issue into the political conversation before her death in 2016. Following this, the current government created a Minister of Loneliness within the departments for the culture , media and sport.

On 20th January 'on the mend' took this concept to the Tate Exchange at the Tate Modern, as part of the event aiming to highlight relationships between art and politics. 'on the mend' is collective of designers who have come together with the intention of improving healthcare environments. They tackle social issues by designing creative participation events.

The collective hosted an interactive pop up where members of the public were invited to write letters to people who might be experiencing loneliness. The pop up provided a great space for people to meet each other, make friends, write letters and support a good cause. We had over 700 visitors to the event and over 300 postcards were written.

The images on the reverse of the postcards join o form a continuous interlocking pattern- hands reaching out to one another. Participants were invited to write a personal message, ether of their own choosing or in response to a prompt question:

- "what is your favourite time of the day?"
- "what is your favourite season?"
- "what fictional place would you most like to visit?"
- "what small things make your day better?"

These questions were used as conversation starter, giving the postcards a focus. These were thought to be topics for conversation that could connect shared experiences, remember things that can be comforting , and access their creative imaginations.

We are in the process of distributing these post cards. We welcome responses to the postcards and your thoughts about how art can tackle loneliness.

Please get in touch with on the mend, if you would like to support their project by visiting their website and following them on Facebook and Instagram.

How have you dealt with loneliness? Have you sent or received postcards or letters from a friend or relative recently? 


  • Deb_Alumni
    Deb_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 187 Pioneering
    Love this, what a beautiful idea to help others.  I am going to answer the prompt questions right here for everyone to read :)

    - "what is your favourite time of the day?"
    Morning around 7am when I get a cup of tea in bed, the perfect way to start the day

    - "what is your favourite season?"
    Every season is fabulous for different reasons, but Spring is my favourite as the sun reappears to make everything grow, life begins again, trees are bright green and the longer days 

    - "what fictional place would you most like to visit?"
    Hogwarts - I would love to be a part of the magic 

    - "what small things make your day better?"
    People that make me and themselves smile - smile at a stranger every day :smiley:

    Off to get myself some postcards...

    Online Community Manager
  • debbiedo49
    debbiedo49 Member Posts: 2,904 Disability Gamechanger
    This is an amazing idea! Be good to see it in public spaces like hospitals and health centres or other community spaces. I walk to work most days and I tend to see the same people out walking or dog walking and if I can, I try to smile say hello. I know myself on lonely life can be with my disabilities. I know how lonely my dad used to be once he stopped driving and stayed home more. The other day I spoke to an older gent about his wacky dog and he was so chuffed that impose to him it made me feel good. I'm an introvert but it's worth it to try pushing past that most times like that. You can usually tell whose approachable or not. 
  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,389 Disability Gamechanger

    Hello every one this is good to talk about loneliness. How do we as community deal with it and why is it happening.

    I live alone not ever my choice. No one ever sets out to be lonely. You can be lonely in a crowded room.

    Understanding why the person is alone is often complex and often confused to the average person who has never been in that situation.

    If sending letters or correspondence or receiving a telephone call is going to reduce the impact of loneliness. Then I am one hopefully be glad to see that.

    One issue in our society is becoming a blight in our social network.  The mental health of those experiencing isolation.

    I wish and never want to be alone but I cope with it daily. I am one of millions and the ages of those facing isolation is growing younger.

    I go out if I can to appointments and the other little things I need to do. Finding a society unresponsive to my mutterings and lack of communication .

    I want to say good morning or good afternoon yet if you do then the person next to you does not want to know.

    I have tried this being polite got no response.

    Is that the problem we have become too self centred and selfish. I feel  very supportive of people and any one from our community.

    If I see some one struggling or having difficulties especially those who are elderly. Seems the response are negative no thank or am I expecting too much.

    I am a dinosaur from the time when every one helped, assisting be supportive of each other. Is every one intolerant , not patient or is this me again.

    Had this in many support groups and mental health charities. Every one finishing my sentences. No time to listen to me. Yet I was listening to them continuing the conversation.  As they walk away.

    In the last mental health charity. Got told off for talking too much . So I asked do you not know your the first person I have spoken to for a month.

    Baffled, bemused none of them have walked a mile in my shoes, have similar to me or even had experiences like me.

    To them a non entity when I left.   Consider me an bit of a no body. Would not recognise me at all. Probably never experienced ever loneliness at all.

    Some other points I had were used to get fairweather friends. Usually Friday for two hours banging on about there relationships and nothing ever else.

    Sorted that out how many times trying to say about any thing else.

    Got a block on my phone. Screen calls. I have one person whom I call lives up the road, if I need anything.

    Do not like a lot of my generation do not wish to bother him but live with the knowledge he is there.

    At the same time when and how what has helped me understand myself more. Is being here, having the openness . The courage to admit am lonely, have issues and problems.

    Be part of a community. Many men of my age will not discuss the aspects of isolation or loneliness. Even though will ring me up spending time with me ever listening talking about every thing.

    I make polite suggestions, ideas if I can get a word in edge ways.

    Then they holler cry got no problems so am not lonely. Am happy but in reality they are not.

    How do we get that across it is OK to feel isolated, lonely need a warm comfort of words and other expressions to deal with this disease.

    That is inflicting the society we live in.


    Community Champion
    SCOPE Volunteer Award Engaging Communities 2019
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  • gaz1960
    gaz1960 Member Posts: 242 Pioneering
    Unfortunately, the technological age we live in, with instant communication,has,actually had the opposite effect and made face to face communication and actually talking to each other on a daily basis obsolete. Instead of getting people closer together, it's made people  more isolated. There's no "community spirit" or socialising " or neighbour talking to 
     neighbour. A "friend" these days is online,and lives thousands of miles away! 
    I have penfriends from all over the World I've never met,and probably never will,and been messaging for years! 
    It would be nice to actually have and meet penfriends within meeting distance of where I live. 
  • Waylay
    Waylay Member Posts: 971 Pioneering
    Cool! I used to do this, when I could afford the stamps:

  • leeCal
    leeCal Member Posts: 5,181 Disability Gamechanger
    Someone who is lonely might find helping someone else who is lonely pretty helpful.
    a very good way to help by phone is by using the Esther Rantzen charity
    They are available to help older lonely people 24/7 and as a helper you can speak to others by phone who are lonely. Certainly worth checking it out and costs nothing to enquire or read the website.

    this could be a way someone could help or be helped if they have mobility issues which prevent joining clubs, of which there are many these days. Even joining a local library can help since people often chat quietly together. Most churches have clubs and social activities too if you are mobile. And joining a Buddhist group could help considerably too since Buddhist philosophy can be learned and utilised without recourse to the religion if you’re not into religious beliefs. 

    Just some thoughts. 

    “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

    ― Dalai Lama XIV


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