Causes Week 2020: Greeting cards give Singapore elderly a boost in non-profit scheme

Causes Week runs this year from Dec 20 to 25. It shines a light on various individuals and groups, and shows how they are making a difference through their chosen causes within the community.

(From left) Mr Park Jiwon, Ms Tan Wei Lin and Mr Advait Bharat Deshpande are part of the six friends who started Hey, You Got Mail!.
(From left) Mr Park Jiwon, Ms Tan Wei Lin and Mr Advait Bharat Deshpande are part of the six friends who started Hey, You Got Mail!.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

SINGAPORE - The idea of doing something for seniors most at risk of social isolation started during the circuit breaker when a group of six friends - equipped with social media, Netflix and their phones - got bored staying at home.

Ms Jaslyn Muk, an undergraduate, said: "We thought why not encourage people to send letters to each other and spread good vibes to endure the tough period.

"Social isolation among seniors has always been a concern in Singapore and with the Covid-19 pandemic, its impact is far worse."

For example, visitors were barred from nursing homes from April to June after Covid-19 cases were found at a nursing home.

In June, Hey, You Got Mail! was launched.

For $2, members of the public can send a card made by volunteers to their loved one.

In return, the group will send a card to a senior in a nursing home or one who attends a senior activity centre to cheer them up and let them know they are not alone.

The "100 per cent" non-profit initiative chose greeting cards as seniors belong to the generation who communicated through cards and letters, they said.

The project is the brainchild of Ms Muk, Ms Joanne Yep, Mr Triston Tan, Mr Park Jiwon, Mr Advait Deshpande, all of them 20, and Ms Tan Wei Lin, 19.

The six are either undergraduates or serving national service.

So far, the group has sent about 1,700 cards to seniors with encouraging messages in English, Chinese, Malay or Tamil.

The group also received some funding from the oscar@sg fund from Temasek Trust to kick-start their project.

Mr Tan, who is doing national service, said the seniors really enjoyed receiving the cards.

Mr Edmund Seah, social work executive at the Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens, where residents receive these cards, said: "For residents who are able to read, the content of the cards, curated in their native language, adds a personal touch.

"For residents who are unable to read, the card was very well designed and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Many residents keep the cards by their bedside."

To find out more, visit the Hey, You Got Mail! website.