20 April 2020
While the COVID-19 virus has tested us all as a community, it has been amazing to see the kindness and new sense of community that has emerged during these difficult and uncertain times. People who have never interacted with each other before, are suddenly reaching out and finding ways to keep connected; as we realise as a community, just how valuable and precious communication and staying connected to one another really is.
In March 2020, all Arcare residences around Australia went into a precautionary lockdown, as a way of ensuring the safety and health of all clients, team members and community members against the COVID-19 virus.
This lockdown meant that family members, friends, volunteers, and community members were no longer permitted to physically enter Arcare residences. Lifestyle teams worked tirelessly to ensure that clients and their family and friends remained connected during the lockdown, with video chat programs and window of opportunity visits being encouraged.
However, after hearing about Arcare Keysborough going into lockdown, Jocelyn, and Cindy, two Year 12 students from Haileybury’s Social Justice Committee, reached out to the community’s lifestyle team with the brilliant idea.
The pair, who were keen to simply bring a smile to the faces of the Arcare Keysborough clients, proposed that they setup a pen pal program with other students, to help everyone feel connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lifestyle team were overjoyed to hear the kind and thoughtful proposal, and soon they begun working together to get the program up and running.
Jocelyn and Cindy named the program, Postcode Love, as a way of highlighting the group’s commitment to spreading the love and keeping the Keysborough community connected.
The Postcode Love team quickly got to work, with the first batch of letters being posted to the Arcare Keysborough community in early April.
The clients were delighted to see and read all the sweet and kind messages. Many were shocked and moved by the idea, that complete strangers could put so much thought and time into writing a letter just for them. It was then, that many of the clients pledged to continue to write back and forth with their pen pals; the connection was instant.
Arcare Keysborough client, Gina wrote back to her pen pal, Sam from the heart, saying , ‘…I have 7 grandchildren and if you accept; you are my 8th…’
Since then, Jocelyn and Cindy have been utilising their Postcode Love social media platforms to recruit and encourage other community members to write letters and send their drawings through to the program.
In April, the partnership and Postcode Love program was commended and featured on The Project and in the Herald Sun newspaper.
The second batch of Postcode Love letters and drawings are set to be posted to the Arcare Keysborough community in early May, and Jocelyn and Cindy say that they are always willing to accept more letters and new members to the program.
(Footage from The Project- Channel 10)