Here to Help: Not Alone - Norfolk authors support project to tackle loneliness amid coronavirus

Pen friend scheme, Here to Help: Not Alone, has been given the support of crime writer Elizabeth Hay

Pen friend scheme, Here to Help: Not Alone, has been given the support of crime writer Elizabeth Haynes (right) and children’s author, Hayley Scott, who also writes under the name Hayley Webster (left). Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

An initiative to keep communities connected during social isolation has received backing from two local authors.

Keeping in touch as Donna-Louise Bishop launches the Not Alone (pen pal initiative) string of the He

Keeping in touch as Donna-Louise Bishop launches the Not Alone (pen pal initiative) string of the Here to Help campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

The pen friend scheme, Here to Help: Not Alone , has caught the attention of crime writer Elizabeth Haynes and children’s author, Hayley Scott.

Since its launch, dozens of people have been paired together and have already sent emails and posted letters to individuals across the county - and further afield.

The Murder of Harriet Monckton author, Mrs Haynes, of north Norfolk, said: “This looks like such a great idea.

Reporter Donna-Louise Bishop launching the Not Alone (pen pal initiative) string of the Here to Help

Reporter Donna-Louise Bishop launching the Not Alone (pen pal initiative) string of the Here to Help campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

“At the darkest of times like this, it’s hard to see any positives. But surely good things will come out of the coronavirus pandemic too, and this might just be one of them: the chance to connect with a new friend in the old-fashioned way.”

A former police intelligence analyst, she won Amazon’s Book of the Year in 2011 and Amazon’s Rising Star Award for debut novels, and has been organising online Zoom meetings for fellow writers during the pandemic.

Echoing that ethos, Ms Scott, of Norwich, who also writes under the name Hayley Webster, thought it was the ideal idea to bring people together.


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She said: “Anything that brings people together, makes a person feel noticed or allows them to notice is important.

“This lovely campaign reminds us what community can be - we’re seeing examples of this spirit everywhere at the moment, little things people can do to make a difference and share kindness and this campaign is an important part of it.”

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Ms Scott is best known for her children’s series The Twitchers. Her first novel, Jar Baby, was published in 2012.

Writer Elizabeth Haynes. Photo: ARCHANT LIBRARY.

Writer Elizabeth Haynes. Photo: ARCHANT LIBRARY. - Credit: Archant

She was also officially opened the Dereham RSPCA charity shop last year.

The EDP and Norwich Evening News unveiled its latest campaign, Here to Help, in a bid to create an army of helpers to step in to offer extra support. As an extra string to its bow, Here to Help: Not Alone is all about steering the focus towards positive mental health and wellbeing and counteracting the effects of social isolation.

Together with Norfolk County Council, the initiative aims to tackle concerns and alleviate issues surrounding loneliness as more and more people find themselves at home.

Book cover of Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes. Picture: SUBMITTED

Book cover of Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

• If you would like to be involved, email donna-louise.bishop@archant.co.uk with the subject header “Here to Help: Not Alone”, your contact details, the type of involvement you would like to have, and the preference of person or group you would like to write to and/or hear from. We will then put you in touch with each other.

Here to Help Campaign

Hayley Webster aka Hayley Scott, children's author. Photo: Hayley Webster

Hayley Webster aka Hayley Scott, children's author. Photo: Hayley Webster - Credit: Hayley Webster

With Norfolk County Council, we have launched our Here to Help campaign in a bid to create an army of helpers to step in to offer that extra support.

Clearly, there are safety issues of which to be aware but there are all ways in which we can help - whether that’s dropping off food, walking a pet, phoning someone on their own or just pointing them in the direction of the most up to date advice.

We’ve included a Here to Help postcard, which we would love to see people post through their neighbours’ letterboxes.

For more information or to download cards, visit here .

For updates, visit our Facebook page Norfolk Coronavirus Updates .

Join our Here to Help Facebook page here .

• If you are doing something to help in your community email donna-louise.bishop@archant.co.uk.

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