By Georgina Binnie, PhD Candidate & Project Officer of Writing Back
Writing Back is an award-winning University of Leeds letter writing project matching School of English undergraduate students as pen pals with older Yorkshire residents.
Now in its third year, the project has seen 140 people write to one another so far. Our students are often away from home for the first time and welcome the chance to write to someone new.
Letters are sent via the School of English so that addresses do not need to be exchanged. The scheme is fully funded, with optional meet-up events being held during the course of the academic year.
Students are given historical images of Yorkshire at the start of the project and are encouraged to share these images in these letters. Participants can choose to have their letters added to our project archive.
Collaborating with Neighbourhood Network Schemes
Having already collaborated with various members of the Leeds Neighbourhood Network Scheme, we are keen to reach more, potential older letter writers. One of the aims of the project is to tackle loneliness and social isolation in both the student and older demographics, although many of our letter writes would not class themselves as ‘lonely’!
Optional questionnaires will be distributed as part of the project. This is a great opportunity for older members of the community to share their knowledge and experiences with our student population.
Our students say:
“I feel especially now it is important that the generation gap be bridged as, much as would like to think there is, there is not much difference between us”.
Our older participants say:
“It’s such a great idea getting young and old ages staying up to date with how they’re tackling life. Writing to my student friend change[s] my day-to-day way of living”.
We’re currently in the process of setting up our new office but in the meantime participants can contact me via email: G.E.Binnie@leeds.ac.uk, via the School of English address: Georgina Binnie, School of English, University of Leeds LS2 9JT or on my work mobile number 07398 759 479.