It’s a #BringBackPaper day here. How’s everyone getting on with the Read Write Create challenge this month? And how about sending out some happy mail? Well, if you’re struggling a little with that one, I think today’s post, from Amy who blogs over at Fluffy Owl’s Adventure, and can be found tweeting at @fluffy1st, will help you out…..
A few years ago, I was watching an episode of ‘Russell Howard’s Good News’ which featured the charity Post Pals. The short film completely captured my attention, and I am now incredibly passionate about being a volunteer with this charity, which is dedicated to making seriously ill children and their siblings smile by sending cards, letters and little gifts in the post.
Post Pals was the idea of a young lady named Vikki, who was bedbound and isolated due to severe ME. She realised how much she appreciated being sent post, and thought others would too. That’s the simple idea which became Post Pals – people are invited to send post to children with life-limiting or life-threatening medical conditions, as well as to their siblings. Post can range from a postcard, a letter, a small gift, anything which could help a child smile and make them feel less isolated.
Post Pals currently supports 103 children, including the siblings of current Pals and the siblings of Pals who have sadly passed away. Each Pal has their own page on the website, which gives a forwarding postal address (we do not give out children’s full names or home addresses), a brief outline of their medical condition, their likes and dislikes and any special considerations such as whether they are able to use their hands.
Post Pals believes it is very important to include siblings as well as the child with the medical condition – often siblings can feel left out, and separated from Mum or Dad if their sibling is in hospital. We want siblings to feel they are just as important as the Pal.
When I first became involved with Post Pals, I was a bit unsure as to what I should write – I didn’t want to say or send the wrong thing. Thankfully, there is a guide to writing post on the website, with suggestions of things to say, and also suggestions of what not to say! There is also a search function, allowing you to search for children with a specific interest (such as football) so you have a topic to write about!
Once I got started, I really couldn’t stop! Post Pals runs a number of schemes with which volunteers can get involved – I’m a Fortnightly Writer, meaning I am assigned a child (I could choose gender and an age range) I write to at least fortnightly. There’s also a Monthly Projects scheme, where each month has a theme and volunteers are assigned a child to send a small parcel to based on that theme. These schemes mean that all children receive at least some post every month, but we always need more volunteers to help us keep them running!
Christmas is a great time to get involved – the Elf Project sees every child assigned two Elves who send them a parcel. Volunteers are also needed to be reindeer – every family with young children will be assigned a volunteer who writes them letters on behalf of each of the reindeer. This is a brilliant excuse for volunteers to get creative! One year I was Mrs Claus, writing to a little girl about my hard-working husband’s preparations for the big day!
I soon wanted to do even more for Post Pals and a year ago I took over the Twitter account, @postpals. It’s been great to engage with volunteers, spread the word, and hopefully create more smiles!
We always need people to send post – January, February and August tend to be slower months for post so at these times especially we try to get more post being sent! The post doesn’t need to be extravagant, perhaps a simple postcard with a joke on, or a pretty card, or a letter about the funny thing your puppy did. All of these will bring a smile to a child’s face. Another way to get involved is to donate used postage stamps – last year we raised £689 by selling used stamps!
Post Pals isn’t about setting up pen friends – it’s about taking just a few minutes to send a smile in the post.
Now who wouldn’t want to do that?
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Amy, and telling us about Post Pals. I kinda think that’s that happy mail sorted this month, isn’t it? And then beyond, too…