Things to consider before you become a letter writer

 

What kind of difference can letter writing make?

It might seem like a small thing, but we hope it can have a big impact for everyone involved, providing connection, sharing of experience and learning about ourselves as well as others. 

 

What is my capacity and commitment?

We ask people taking part to write at least once per month.  Letters themselves can be any length you like.  Please do consider whether you can realistically commit to regular writing so that we can avoid disappointing those taking part.

 

How do I feel about sharing my home address with a writing partner?

We want people to do what feels right for them.  If you do not wish to give your home (or another postal) address to a writing partner, at least initially, or ever, you can use the project PO Box as the return address.

 

How might I deal with hearing about difficult experiences?

Writing partners might share difficult experiences that can be upsetting to hear about.  It can be helpful to consider what supports you have in place if this happens.

 

How the project works

The project is run by Kingston LGBT Forum with funding from METRO Charity and aims to connect older LGBTQ+ people with younger LGBTQ+ people in Kingston, to support each other and to build and strengthen community.  A volunteer trustee will spend one evening per week responding to requests to participate, forwarding letters and keeping the project running.

People who wish to participate will fill out a short questionnaire to help us match them with a writing partner, according to their interests, writing preferences etc.  We will also use this information to introduce writing partners to each other.  We ask for home (or other postal) address so that we can send participants a writing pack to get things started, but it is your choice whether you choose to share that with a partner or not; you can use the project PO Box if you prefer.

Whilst we aim to match older and younger people in accordance with their preferences as much as possible, it is important to remember that your writing partner might be different from you in lots of ways, for example in relation to personal experiences, levels of privilege etc.  We hope that this is a positive thing for all participants.

 

Initial Contact

We will send you an introduction to your writing partner, based on the information they have shared about themselves in the project questionnaire.  If you are unsure what to write, we suggest that you start by responding to this, and by saying something about yourself, your interests and why you are taking part in the project.  It can take a little time to build up a relationship, and writing will almost certainly become easier as you get to know each other.

 

Privacy and Safety

We would encourage you to talk generally about the project with others, but please do not disclose information about your writing partner, unless you have permission to do so.  This is key to building trust and respecting privacy.

Don’t assume that your writing partner is out at home as being LGBTQ.  During initial letters, you can ask whether it is okay to send materials that are LGBTQ focused should this be something you wish to do.

If you feel unable to support your writing partner with a particular matter or you are concerned for their safety, it is okay to say so.  With their permission, you may also contact us if you feel we may be able to help you put them in touch with the support they need.

The project is not intended to facilitate sexual or romantic exchanges, however writing partners may show interest or ask questions about these areas of their writing partners’ life.  Again, if you feel uncomfortable with this, it is okay to say so and to set boundaries. 

If for any reason, you feel the match is not working, please do let us know so that we can match each of you up with a different writing partner.  Similarly, please do let us know if for any reason you need to withdraw from the project.

 

Review and Evaluation

We will contact you during the first few weeks, to ask if you have successfully written and heard back from your writing partner for the first time, so that we know that the exchange of details is working.

We will also review the project at key points to find out how it is going and what participation means to writing partners.  We will also invite participants to come together at the end of the initial funding period, if they would like (Covid-19 permitting), to celebrate the projects’ achievements and meet each other in person.  

 

Project contact: annie@kingstonlgbtforum.org.uk

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