Letters of Love: How these Youths are Battling Elderly Isolation in Singapore

What do PUBG, the Circuit Breaker and handmade cards have to do with the elderly? Read on to find out about the journey of the budding social enterprise Hey, You Got Mail! and how they are battling the problem of elderly isolation in Singapore, one letter at a time.

[Image Source: Hey, You Got Mail!]

By Willa & Wen Hui

Picture this: It’s been a long day at work, you’ve just arrived home and you pry open your letterbox. Sifting through bills and smiling property agents, you see something scribbled on a brown envelope. It’s your address, but written by hand. 

These days, receiving a handwritten letter or card in the mail is something that sparks joy in many. The thought of someone taking the time out to pen down their thoughts makes it more appreciable than a simple email or text message. But, did you know that your simple hand-written notes can bring happiness to more than just who you address it to?

Unbeknownst to many, nearly 50,000 seniors suffer from chronic social isolation in Singapore. It goes without saying that COVID-19 measures have worsened this issue. Though regulations have eased a little since the Circuit Breaker, some members of the elderly still face a reality as bleak and lonely as before, due to reasons like digital estrangement or ever-shrinking social circles.

With the aim of combating social isolation amongst the elderly, Hey, You Got Mail! is a social enterprise led by a team of pre-university students and university undergraduates. Their goal is to help you spread joy to your loved ones while sharing the same happiness with seniors residing in nursing homes at the same time, through handmade personalised cards.

This initiative was kickstarted earlier this year when this group of friends were battling it out for some Winner Winner Chicken Dinner (Or, for the uninitiated, striving for a win in the online multiplayer game PUBG). A quick thought about what they could send each other during the Circuit Breaker besides GrabFood led to a deeper discussion, with the consensus being sending handmade cards through the mail was something special they could do to reconnect and show concern for each other.

But they didn’t stop there. The group went far and beyond to consider those who had no one to get letters from: lonely seniors living in nursing homes. Hoping to share the same bit of happiness with them, Hey, You Got Mail! was born.

We promise you, these cards do make their day.
[Image source: Hey! You Got Mail]

Flash forward to today, Hey, You Got Mail! is encouraging Singaporeans to send cards to their loved ones during this COVID-19 period for just $2. The best part is, your $2 not only sends a card to the person of your choice but also sends another to a senior in any of their partner nursing homes as well. This is definitely a unique opportunity to make both a member of the elderly and one of your friends or family members smile despite the ongoing pandemic.

Keen on helping out behind the scenes and in getting your hands busy by making those cards? Hey, You Got Mail! also allows members of the public to volunteer for their card making sessions. Interested volunteers can sign up for these sessions by filling up this form.

Hey! You Got Mail is always looking for volunteers!
[Image source: Hey! You Got Mail]

A large number of senior citizens residing in elderly homes grapple with social isolation every single day. With the elderly only being entitled to having only one visitor per day for half an hour, receiving these handmade and handwritten cards will surely be a delight.

At the time of writing, Hey, You Got Mail! has officially delivered 2,343 cards from 109 donors and has also partnered with 11 organisations. Join their heart-warming initiative today to make a positive impact on the elderly’s lives!

Join them in making a difference in the lives of seniors today.
[Image source: Hey! You Got Mail]