Tetley Tea partnership gives The Letterbox Project more capacity to reach out to schools, nursing homes, local places

Originally Published by: Daily Liberal

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Three Dubbo schools are among more than 435 nationally to take up pen and paper to combat loneliness this year, and the number could soon grow, the woman behind the campaign says.

The students have been participating in The Letterbox Project, founded by Dubbo's Mea Campbell to create connection for people without access or capacity to use technology.

Ms Campbell launched the project as COVID-19 forced Australians to physically distance.

A new partnership with global company Tetley Tea paves the way to reach out to people and places in the wider region as the social enterprise approaches its first birthday, she says.

The support from the household name will allow for more permanent staff to come on board to assist with the team of 47 core volunteers, and that will open up new avenues, she said.

"I'm excited that we will now have the capacity to reach out to local schools, nursing homes and so on, and invite them to participate," she said.

"There has just been no time to even think of doing that, so the staff will really help in so many ways."

Other interested community members are also welcome to lend their time to The Letterbox Project, which estimates more than 30,000 letters will be sent in the next 12 months.

"Our letter writers are growing daily, we have more than 15,000 letter writers, excluding schools and organisations, and we welcome anyone to participate," Ms Campbell said.

"The need is there, loneliness is an equal risk factor for mortality as smoking and obesity, equal.

"Loneliness is linked to multiple chronic conditions including heart disease, lung disease, CV disease, stroke and metabolic disease.

"It is also a major predicator of psychological problems including depression and anxiety.

"It is a serious community issue."