Letter-writing campaign boosted by record volunteer numbers from science company with Derbyshire UK


A science company with a UK technical centre in Derbyshire has boosted a highly valued letter-writing social enterprise with volunteer writers from around the world.


Science company Lubrizol, whose UK technical centre is at Hazelwood, near Belper, has seen record numbers of volunteers signing up to pen personal letters for the ‘Give … a few words’ campaign based in Yorkshire.


The campaign started during the 2020 lockdown and is aimed at sending letters to people who may experience isolation. Many recipients are in care homes while others are isolated through a variety of different reasons.


Lubrizol has branches across the world and offers its employees the chance to give back to the community through ‘Building Global Bonds’ volunteering days.


This year, the company reported more people than ever had signed up for the Huddersfield-based letter-writing initiative, with 53 volunteers from the UK, France, India, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the USA and Spain.


One volunteer was Nathan Sawyer, a 21-year-old work placement student at Lubrizol who had a special reason for taking part.


The former Netherthorpe School sixth form student, of Bolsover, has phoned his 90-year-old grandma, Rita Sawyer, on a daily basis since March 2020 when the first Covid lockdown was announced.


Nathan, whose younger cousin contributed drawings to his letter, said: “It was a nice thing to do. It made me think of my grandma because she lives on her own and I know she would really appreciate something like that.


“I see this through the lens of my grandma. I see how much benefit it brings. I spare five or ten minutes out of my day to give her a call – it’s really sad to know that some people don’t have that. Since March 2020 I’ve either rung her or seen her every day. It’s the most special thing for her and me.”


Sharron Wilkinson, who founded ‘Give … a few words’ in lockdown so that elderly people in local care homes could receive a letter when they could not see visitors, said she was very grateful for the support of Lubrizol, which is one of the campaign’s biggest corporate supporters.


She said: “I just think it’s absolutely superb. When the letters are coming from Saudi Arabia and America, I think there is something really special about receiving letters from people all over the world and hearing all the different voices and viewpoints.  


“People just can’t believe it when someone who doesn’t know them goes to some effort to do something with nothing expected back. It makes people very emotional. This is a gift of letters.”


Sharron said was overjoyed by the success of her campaign which started in 2020 and is still going strong today.


“It all happened organically,” she said. “It’s just heart-warming. We’re seeing the best of people really. I just feel very privileged to work on it.


“We are very grateful for the support of everyone at Lubrizol and for some amazing words, stories and photos from employees across the globe.”


People who have received letters through the campaign have said how emotional they find it, with children of elderly recipients reporting that they enjoy the process of reading the letters out loud to their mums and dads.


Claire Hollingshurst, from Lubrizol’s charities and communities committee – who has also taken part in writing the letters – said: “The Give … a few words’ campaign is close to our hearts at Lubrizol. It was amazing to see employees from our offices all around the world take part this year. There’s something so simple but so special about writing letters and we’re delighted to be playing a role in keeping this vital project going.”

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