Today I am delighted to be hosting the lovely Anna from Miss Beatrix, the creator of the wonderful #PostCircle….
Hi there! *cheery wave*
I’m Anna of the creative lifestyle blog, Miss Beatrix, and I’ve popped in today to tell you about a project I’ve been running through my blog for just over a year now, called #PostCircle.
#PostCircle is quite simply a large and ever-growing group for people who are keen to reignite the lost art of letter writing, and bring smiles to others through ‘happy post’.
The idea for #PostCircle came about last year when I was lamenting to a friend on Twitter about how I only ever received boring post. You know, the usual; bills, circulars, dentist reminders… euch. The only shining light in a sea of dull ephemera were the beautiful letters I exchanged with a penpal. She sends me stunning postcards and long, heartfelt letters, and coming home from work to see one of those waiting for me never fails to make me smile. As an avid reader and writer myself I have always loved the idea of writing letters to friends and missed the childhood penpals I’d made when leaving one county for another, aged nine. When forced to write thank you letters after each Christmas and birthday I used to pen little stories in each to relieve the monotony!
My Twitter friend suggested we start writing to each other, but we quickly realised that we both live in Sheffield! Amy has since become one of my best real-life friends, and I suggested that I use my blog to call out for anyone who might be interested in exchanging letters, then Amy and I could each have a couple of people to write to.
The next day I did just that, hoping for up to five people to join us and form a ‘post circle’. Forty five got in touch! The response was amazing; such enthusiasm for re-establishing letter writing as an antidote to the world of instant, impersonal communication. I quickly realised that in order to accommodate everyone I would need to split up the applicants into groups of six, each being a circle in its own right. Each circle is named after a British animal or bird.
I am passionate about the good that #PostCircle brings to the world. I receive messages every week from members telling me about friendships they have made through the project – often on the other side of the world – and the huge amount of effort their penpals go to to create thoughtful, happy post. Members exchange all sorts, from simple, heartfelt letters to recipes, photographs and small gifts. I myself have received stunningly decorated envelopes, beer mats from Scotland and patchwork pieces from Cornwall. One lady even emailed me to say that she had found a kindred soul in a #PostCircle member who, like her had recently lost her father to cancer. The pair were able to comfort each other in their grief, and it made me happy to think that in writing a letter we force ourselves to measure out and consider our thoughts as we write them down; so much more personal than a quick, ‘sorry to hear your news’ email or text. And of course, the act of writing by hand can be so therapeutic, too.
At around the two hundred member mark I realised I had a tough decision to make. I was trying to run #PostCircle solo around a full-time job, a part-time job, a small business (I make buttons!) and my blog. Applications were flooding in each week, and it was becoming impossible to reply to requests and keep track of everyone. An address change took approximately eight emails to process! Feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I tentatively put out a cry for help on Facebook, and to my delight three lovely ladies got in touch to offer their time and organisational skills. I call them the #PostCircle Angels. Debbie, Annee and Claire are all prolific #PostCircle members themselves, and today we each look after a different stage of the #PostCircle joining process. Without them I may have had to shut down applications indefinitely, so I’m very grateful that by working together we get to keep this project running, help more friendships to form and more days to be brightened by happy post.
Today #PostCircle stands at over three hundred members. We celebrated the project’s first birthday with a Twitter party in February, which a great many members attended. We had giveaways and music (provided by tweeting YouTube links to songs with a postal theme!) and celebrated the project’s most prolific and enthusiastic writers.
#PostCircle has appeared in magazines such as Homemade with Love and Pretty Nostalgic and inspired others to set up mail swapping groups of their own.
New applications come in every day, from the UK and beyond, as far as the United States, Malaysia and Australia. Serendipity has ambled across my own path in the form of a request to join coming in from an ex-nurse who worked on the maternity ward on which I was born, at the time I was born, and another from a lady now living on the street I lived on in Manchester when I was four! The #PostCircle magic continues to spread.
And members have made the project their own, using the #PostCircle hashtag to find other members on social media and form even more snail mail connections. Some have even started mini #PostCircle groups so their children can share letters, book recommendations, artwork… and sweets! Kids and partners have been known to get jealous of all the happy post and want to get in on the action (chaps are more than welcome to join too!)
New members are always welcome, especially from those happy to post internationally – we only place one international per circle to keep postage costs down. We just ask for a little patience while our volunteers make time around their busy lives to group each applicant with five others with similar interests, and then the postal world is your oyster!
Thank you so much to Jocelyn for allowing me to chat with you here today, I see a kindred spirit in her campaign to #BringBackPaper too!
To join #PostCircle please first have a read of our rules, then email firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name. Long live happy post!
Thank you so much for sharing, Anna, and for starting #PostCircle up. it was certainly the catalyst that got me writing letters again, a favourite pastime of mine, and part of the inspiration for #BringBackPaper, too. I just love it!