Dear Londoner

An interactive pop-up experience designed to combat post-lockdown social isolation.

Project brief
The goal of this project was to encourage more empathy amongst strangers in post-pandemic London.

Project overview
I designed and facilitated an interactive pop-up experience where Londoners connected with other Londoners by writing them postcards of encouragement.

Project outcome
The project engaged 120 strangers who wrote or received postcards of encouragement.

Initial Problem Discovery

What problem am I trying to solve?
Londoners are lonely.

London is one of the loneliest cities in the world — especially in 2021, after two lockdowns.
of adults in the UK feel lonely often, always or some of the time, in 2021
of adults in the UK believe that empathy towards others has declined
The Guardian 

Understanding Target Audience

What is it like to walk alone in the streets of London?

City of London Smile Experiment: Over 37 minutes, I smiled at 72 people, of which only 10 people smiled back. 
London has a reputation for being an unfriendly city.

Not many people will smile back at you. 
Check out this smile map.

A felt sense of apathy towards and from strangers in the street contribute to feelings of disconnection and isolation.

Why does this matter?

Empathy is the key factor to connection! 
By being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feeling like someone is putting themselves in your shoes, you automatically feel more connected to one another and less lonely.

A New Way of Thinking About the Problem

How can empathy be reintroduced into the streets of London?

Everybody could use some encouragement for something going on in their life.

Solution“Dear Londoner...”
We all have something to connect over.

Fostering a culture of empathy in public spaces by getting Londoners to write postcards of encouragement to strangers.

Setting up a stand in Borough Market, I asked passers-by to anonymously write down their address and something that they needed encouragement for — collecting over 60 responses. I then asked another 60 Londoners to write back to them with words of support on postcards I designed and risograph printed. 

No names, just your address. Anonymity is important to get people willing to open up about their lives and share their addresses.

Postcards. The physicality of a handwritten postcard is more human and not so common in our digital age — it makes people feel more connected.

The postcards of encouragement have now been posted to the given addresses.