Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have to abide by restrictions such as social distancing and prevent unnecessary trips, the opportunities of carrying out face to face interaction within the community are extremely difficult. However the masks and social distancing does not stop one from volunteering and serving the community, just in an alternative way. I got sick very often as a child, therefore when I’m grew older, I wanted to do as much as I could to give back to society. Through writing letters to house-bound, isolated elderly people in the UK and the US, I became their ‘pen-pal’. I became the a person who they can write to, spend time with and most importantly, have their hopes up to live another day instead of thinking negatively amidst the pandemic. Although it is impossible to fit myself in their shoes entirely, it allowed me to understand more of how an elderly person feels when they are living alone, with little to no friends or family visiting. I can feel the warmth in their letters, the eagerness to connect with the community and when I see pictures of them enjoying the smallest things in life, I see the sparkle in their eyes and it has motivated me to do better. Overall, it made me feel all the time writing letters and drawing are all worth it.
As we are all living in a digital era, I was surprised how one can connect with another using pens and papers, without using the internet, without having to meet them in person, without having to chat everyday. However, the bond is so strong that it makes you feel like your pen-pal is sitting right next to you. I was frustrated at the very beginning as I was unable to participate in any volunteering due to age restrictions and lockdowns, and I thought that writing letters would not help as much. This experience has encouraged me to continue serving the community, therefore I joined the NHS Youth Forum, hoping to voice concerns to the NHS from a teenager’s point of view which would help improve the NHS as a whole. I am currently a member of the widening access team of the NHS Youth Forum, where we aim at providing a more equal access across England, and for those who would like to pursue a career in the NHS to obtain more experiences in the field. By gaining more experience they would be able to understand the medical sector more and discover their passion. I know all these experiences may sound small, however these small actions and steps will bring positive changes to society, more than you can ever imagine.