We all love receiving a handwritten letter through the post, the feeling you get.
That rush of excitement, the anticipation of ‘what’s inside?!’ – Reading well thought out words from someone close to us, offering an opportunity of reflection and even becoming a tactile keep sake for the future. Letters provide us with such a wholesome experience.
A much loved quote by Phyllis Theroux describes the art of sending a letter perfectly “To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”
A group who really understand the emotive power of letters and the positive effects receiving them can bring, is the charity From Me to You.
Set up by Alison Hitchcock and Brian Greenley, From Me to You was developed as a result of Brian being diagnosed with bowel cancer; In a bid to help him through what is an incredibly isolating and terrifying experience, Alison began writing letters to Brian, providing the support and distraction he needed. Four years later Brian has fully recovered and together with Alison their mission is to encourage and inspire people to write letters to friends and family suffering from cancer.
The idea is simple: write a letter, put it in an envelope, stick a stamp on it and send it on its way.
Yet, the impact of such a simple task on the recipient is an incredibly powerful, emotive and supportive experience. There are so many reasons, ‘why it’s good to write’, as Brian and Alison explain. For the recipient the positivity that comes from receiving a letter is undeniable, from holding it in your hands and evoking the senses with its tactile nature, offering an alternative to today’s digitally driven world. Plus, the act of writing can be just as good for the writer, with research showing how the routine of letter writing can increase levels of contentedness and lower instances of depression.
From Me to You’s website is filled with writing resources, toolkits and a community to help anyone interested in writing letters.
Including workshops and letter writing days, tips on what to write and handy opening lines. Alison and Brian have created a hub of expertise to guide you along experience.
Want to get involved in another way?
From Me to You also run their Donate A Letter campaign where people write anonymous letters which are distributed to cancer patients in hospitals across the UK. To be involved in this project, contact From Me to You here
We all hope that we would never be in a situation where a loved one is diagnosed with cancer but with a multitude of reasons why letter writing can be beneficial to both the writer and recipient, it is easy to see how such a simple act can offer an individual suffering an isolating illness warmth, positivity and companionship.
Alison Hitchcock is co-founder of From Me to You, a national campaign encouraging us to write letters to friends suffering from cancer. She has a Master’s in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, having left a City career in 2010 to pursue a love of writing She was runner-up in the inaugural SASH Writing Competition and is published in their anthology, Homeless. Her work has also appeared in Mechanics’ Institute Review 12, The Interpreter’s House and Every Day Fiction.
After being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2010, he gave up work at PwC where he worked in the US Tax department. He focussed on his health and as his cancer moved to Stage IV. In 2013 he was given the all clear and in 2016 set up From Me to You, encouraged by the 100 letters he had received from co-founder Alison Hitchcock during his illness.
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