Social enterprise launches letter writing service to boost mental health

Group Hug founder Jonathan Greenwood with Vina.

A Dales social enterprise has launched a letter writing service to tackle loneliness and boost mental health.

Dear Vina has been launched by Group Hug founder Jonathan Greenwood.

It is aimed at people without access to email and social media, but anyone can get involved.

Participants send a letter and get a hand-written response from a volunteer.

Jonathan Greenwood, founder of Group Hug, said: “During the first lockdown, we delivered nearly 2,000 goody bags and so many people sent handwritten letters of thanks — they did so because they simply don’t have access to email or social media.

“I created Dear Vina to fill the gap and offer the opportunity to write a letter through a secure and confidential communication channel.

“I needed a focal point for people to write to, so I chose Vina, my 13-year-old Lakeland Terrier who has a team of trained volunteers ready to hand write a reply encouraging more discussion.

“We invite anyone over the age of 13 to write to Dear Vina about your interests, what’s on your mind or how you are feeling. Writing a letter can free your mind.”

The service has the support of Richmond MP Rishi Sunak.

He said: “Loneliness has been a significant problem for many people during the pandemic.

“I hope this service in North Yorkshire will help to combat the impact of social isolation for those who have not felt happy or able to use modern communication methods like social media, messaging apps or email.”

Jonathan added: “You may be reading this and can think of someone who could use, or benefit from this service. Perhaps they don’t have access to social media or the news.

“Please share this opportunity with them and encourage them to write a letter.”

To find out more about volunteering to help with replies email

To send a letter post it to Dear Vina, Group Hug, PO Box 74, Moor Road, Leyburn, DL8 9AP.

To opt in for a reply,  include a stamped, self-addressed envelope

Group Hug is working on an app to help people with their mental health which is due to launch later this year

For more information, visit