Firstly Welcome to The Every Mum Movement and The Letter of Light Project!
I just want to take this opportunity to say a MASSIVE thank you for supporting this project and for using the darkness you went through to help shed a little light for a mum who is currently suffering. The fact that you are courageous and thoughtful enough to do this means you are a pretty incredible person yourself, and it is an honour to have you as part of the Letters of Light team!
Please also remember to take extra care of yourself and your mental health during writing your letter and the time following. I know from personal experience, that working on projects dealing with mental health, no matter how well intentioned, can trigger old feelings as they make us relive some of the darker times of our past. Therefore, take time to be kind to yourself, to take a breath when you need to and most importantly to take the time to remember how far you’ve come and to feel proud of yourself!
The Every Mum Movement and the projects I run for it are incredibly personal to me and I always try to keep helping mums at the heart of it all. Therefore, if there is anything you would like to see the movement take part it, campaign for or create then please do not hesitate to drop me a note.
Finally, I really hope you enjoy this experience and being an Author of Light! And can take some solace in the knowledge that the darkness you once experienced has now been turned into a ray of light helping another mum.
A million thank yous!
Let your light shine bright!
Founder of @lettersoflightproject and @everymummovement
The Story Behind the Project
One of the things I remember most poignantly from my time suffering with my mental health is the feeling of darkness. It was something I felt shrouded in. Over taken by. It coloured my every day.
As we all know Mental health illnesses do not discriminate. Therefore, the people suffering are incredibly diverse. However, the one thing that binds us all is the acute memory of the darkness we have been forced to visit because of it.
After meeting lots of fellow mums, who I shared this solidarity of darkness with, I started to question where this darkness goes once we have managed to come through it? And what should we do with this scar of a memory once we have healed?
I feel we need to use this darkness and the memory of it to shed a little light.
My way of doing this has been through writing letters to mums currently suffering with their maternal mental health across the UK. Letters to women I’ve never met, but who I know I share so much with. Letters explaining that I understand the darkness they are trying to overcome and hopefully shining a little bit of light by telling them they are not alone and that with the right support, they will (like me) be able to come through to the other side.
I would now like to join with other mums with lived experience to see if we can shed as much light as possible for mums currently suffering with their maternal mental health across the UK.
The Letters of Light Project Objectives
There are over 600,000 births a year and with 1 in five women being diagnosed with a maternal mental health illness there are currently thousands of mums across the UK struggling in the dark.
I would like to be able to reach out and ensure all of these wonderful mums walking through the darkness have a hand to hold whilst doing so. That each mum has the words of a fellow mum – A mum that despite not knowing her, knows what she is going through.
What is a Letter of Light?
A Letter of Light is a letter of support written by a mum with lived experience to a mum currently suffering with her mental health. It is a compassionate letter the mum can open and read when she feels ready and in need of a little light. It is a letter she can share with loved ones if it helps start a conversation about how she is feeling. And a letter to keep at hand to be able to read when the darkness becomes too much and she just needs someone to turn the light on.
As women with lived experience of maternal mental health, we know that there is nothing so powerful as words from someone who has walked in our shoes. Someone who has been where we are and lived through it.
Words of encouragement from a fellow mum who has shared a similar path makes us feel less alone, less isolated and in return, hopeful that we too will be in their shoes one day. Thus being, well and feeling empowered that we deserve the right to enjoy motherhood..
This is the sentiment behind The Letters of Light project. To connect mums who have recovered from their maternal mental health illness with mums currently suffering. To help shed some light in the darkness thousands of mums are currently trying to navigate their way through.
How to Get Involved – Become an “Author of Light
I am appealing for fellow mums with experience of a maternal mental health illness to put pen to paper and help me offer a hand through the darkness with their own letter of light. All letters will be sent to The Every Mum Movement, collected and reviewed and then issued to mums suffering with a maternal mental health illness across the UK. We will be working with a number of organisations supporting mums across the UK to ensure as many mums as possible receive their very own Letter of Light”. If you’d like to take part please register your interest by sending an email to email@example.com letting us know that you would like to write a letter and when you will be able to send it. Then, it’s over to you to get writing……
How to Write Your Letter of Light – Tips and Guidelines
Inspiration for Getting started
As women with lived experience of maternal mental health, we all remember ‘that’ feeling of darkness. I for one, felt cloaked in it and the weight of that cloak made each step forward seem impossible. Every day I was sure I would break under the weight of it. That heavy cloak made it difficult for me to see a way forward and the darkness was so complete some days that I couldn’t see a way through.
Our letters of light are being breathed into existence as bright forces to cut through that darkness. To shed some light and hope for the mum reading it to know that she is not alone. Therefore, when you first start to write your letter hold onto that memory of how you once felt in the darkness and then think of the words you needed to hear to help shed some light and hope when you needed it the most. Then start to write……
Tone of the Letter
Things to bear in mind
As we all know, Maternal Mental Health illnesses manifest a range of complex emotions from self-loathing and crippling anxiety. To ferocious rage and debilitating vulnerability and self-doubt. There are also times when we hear of others experiences and then measure our own against it and start to believe ours is not as bad and therefore, not in need of or deserving of support.
These are all aspects we need to be mindful of when composing our letters of light and I’ve found that the best approach when writing is to yes, share that I have experience of a maternal mental health illness as, this helps reassure the mum reading that I understand what shes’ going through. However, I do not go into detail of what I went through, so as to ensure my words don’t fuel any feelings, she may have, that she does not deserve support.
I instead keep the focus on supporting the mum reading the letter through the use of kind words and a gentle reminder that she deserves to be well. That the illness is not her fault and that with the right help and support she will come through it. All things I needed to hear when trying to find a way through my own darkness.
There is no official word limit. However, again bear in mind that you are writing to a mum who may not have much time to read lengthy letters due to her having to take care of her baby and that because of her illness she may struggle with concentration for lengthy periods of time.
When I’ve wrote my letters they have been a maximum length of 2 x A 4 sides. I also found that keeping it to this as a maximum length helped me concentrate on the main points I wanted to get across without being too lengthy. And was also easy to read without taking too long.
Our Letters of Light are there to offer emotional support, encouragement and hope from people with lived experience. They are not meant to offer psychological or medical advice under any circumstances. Even if the author of the letter has a professional background in mental health, the letters are not to contain any advice or reference to medical advice, medication or psychological advice. Thank you for understanding the importance of this.
Format of letter
There is nothing more personal or lovely than receiving a hand written letter. To see words on a page that someone has gone to the effort to write for you. Something you can see and feel and hold in your hands, knowing that the person writing to you once did the same. A hand written letter is something that you keep, something you treasure and something that in years to come is a memory of a part of your life already lived. It brings words to life and shows the person reading, that they matter.
I know in this digital age that everything is easily viewable on screen, on an app or in an email. However, this project and its personal nature needs to be fulfilled with letters that embody personal kindness and support. Therefore, all letters are to be hand written.
- Keep hand writing clear and easy to read. Feel free to use capitals only, if this helps
- Your letter should start “Dear fellow Mum” and be signed with your first name only followed by – “A mum who cares” For example “ Best Wishes from Olivia – A mum who cares”. If you do not feel comfortable including your first name please feel free to sign it with “From a mum who cares”.
- The letter should be a maximum of 2 sides of A4
- Letters can be written on any type of writing paper. I did get myself a writing set with pretty paper for mine, but feel free to use whatever you have access to
- Please email a typed copy of the letter to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can keep a digital record of all letters issued
- We will be keeping a record of all letters issued in our “Letters of Light” letter Bank
- Your letter should be enclosed in an UNSEALED envelope. Please do not seal the envelopes as we need to review every letter before we send them out. You should also include a print off of the letter typed purely as an aide to reading.
What to Send
Your hand written letter of light in an unsealed envelope
Typed and printed copy of the letter
Stamp donation (If you can) to be loose in the envelope not fixed to an envelope
Postage & Donations
Unfortunately, at the moment we cannot cover the cost of your postage to us (but it’s something I’m working on!). However, we will be doing our best to cover the cost of sending the letters out to the mums and organisations across the UK. At the moment all of The Every Mum Movement projects are self-funded – therefore, any donations of stamps or funds are much appreciated. Therefore, If you want to include a stamp for your on-going letter it would be hugely appreciated.
Where to send
Please send your hand written letter of light, the envelope it’s to be sent in (unsealed) along with a typed copy of the letter and any stamp donations in an envelope to the following address:
The Every Mum Movement HQ
The Letter of Light Project
30 Pear Tree Drive
Closing date for 1st Wave of Letters
This is the first wave of letters. Therefore, if you want your letter to be included in the first wave please send your letter pack and an emailed version of your letter to us by 31st January 2020. Thank you!
What Happens Next
Once your letter and email copy has reached us, your letter will be reviewed and then placed in the first batch of letters to be issued to mums suffering with their maternal mental health.
We will be keeping a record of your letter and where it was sent and will keep you posted on when it’s issued and any feedback we receive from the organisations who receive them. However, the nature of this project is based on the power of anonymous support and the thought of your words providing some light and comfort to a fellow mum, somewhere out there in the world is an incredibly special thing.
How You Can Continue to Support The Letters of Light Project
A quick and easy way you can support the project and The Every Mum Movement today is by following the movement on social media
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/everymummovement/
And by signing up to the website at www.everymummovement.com
Please know that every like and share you do on the work we share on social media really helps the movement and project reach as many mums as possible.
I am SO looking forward to receiving your letter and working together to help shed a little light for lots of mums in need of support!
Keep shining bright!