Make a New *Pen* Friend in the WI |

There was a time when letters were the only way that rural women could keep in touch. While this method of communication is no longer a necessity, connecting via written correspondence remains a pleasure. 

Valerie Hughes, President of Sutton WI Norfolk federation, remembers receiving letters from her mother when she left home to work. 

“What kept me going were the letters from home,” she says. “This was over 40 years ago and my mother still has[the] letters I wrote back.” 

That deep connection is one of the reasons she created a pen pal link for her friends in the Women’s Institute. 

“[It’s] a way of helping some ladies who felt lonely, who like me liked writing, those who didn’t have internet access, those who wanted to have something more than just bills and circulars coming through the post.”

Valerie has been organizing the ‘pen pal exchange’ for over a year. The UK magazine, WI Life, published a letter from Valerie about the exchange in the November/December 2018 magazine. Ever since, they’ve been averaging about around 60 requests per month and are open to more. 

To participate, head to the UWI Penpal Exchange page on Facebook. When you request to join, you’ll be asked What is the name of your current WI? Enter that and await the group’s approval to join. 

Alternately, you can reach out to the Rose at the NBWI office to get in contact with Valerie to participate. Valerie and her team will pair women up as pen pals privately. Postal information is not shared publicly. 

For more information on pen pal programs in the Women’s Institute, you can also read: