You've got mail - By Shaun Weldon


 Letters, they’re just words on a piece of paper, an expression of feelings, answers to questions or an explanation of things going on in life. What can be expressed or told can easily be done so via a phone call, after all, we are modern people in a modern world with modern means of conversing, so why waste time writing a letter? Think of a photograph, one that reminds you of something dear to your heart, a moment saved in time that puts a smile on your face every time you look at it. What about that conversation you had last month that that really made a difference to your day when you were feeling low? You know, the one you had with such a body about such a thing...what did they say again? The beauty of a letter is that those emotions and inspirational words of thoughtfulness are frozen in time, allowing people who have all the time in the world to read time and time again, revisiting the uplifting moment they experienced the first time they read it. If I were serving a sentence in prison, I’m guessing when the day is done and I’m lay awake in my cell, thinking of all the people I've left behind on the outside and regretting the choices I made to end up there, I'd feel pretty low and alone. Staring at a crack in the ceiling with nothing but the same old thoughts running around in my head like a cat chasing a mouse, tormenting me, then I’d probably give anything for a five minute escape. The importance of letters to inmates is much higher than people may think. The writer of the letter may feel like they’re just putting a phone call on paper, but to the reader, that phone call on paper could be the missing link that is needed to keep their chain of mental stability together. It will pick them up whenever they feel they can't carry on, distract them from mentally abusing themselves and divert them from suicidal thought. As well as a means of communication and a lifeline of distraction, a letter can also be a way of curing boredom. I always say, “Living without laughter is existing”, because having a laugh or better yet, sharing a laugh, can make even the best of days more enjoyable. It's not just a case of cheering a person up with humour, it has a snowball effect. Let me explain it this way... When somebody's sense of humour is stimulated it doesn't just improve their mood, it improves the way they think, act, cooperate. It positively affects the way the person engages with others and can reduce reluctance. Sending somebody a humorous letter will make a big difference to their day, be different and make letters interesting by adding a little lighthearted humour. If something funny has happened to you today, you’ve read something online or in a magazine that had you laughing so hard that it brought tears to your eyes, share it. After all, no inmate wants to be asked or write about prison, it's not a holiday camp, they want a five minute break from the same four walls when they sit down to read a letter that they have read fifty times before.