Although worldwide travel may be on hold for the moment, there is another way to connect with people from across the world in a safe and friendly way. Postcrossing has piqued the interest of over 800,000 people in over 206 countries across the globe. Described simply, the project’s goal is to allow anyone, from across the world, to send and receive postcards. For each postcard you send, you will receive one back from a random postcrosser.
Over 60 million postcards have been received since the project was started in 2005 by Paulo Magalhães. Paulo set it up as a side project whilst he was studying in Portugal. He knew that lots of people, like himself, loved to receive mail, especially postcards, so he set up an online platform to connect people and called it Postcrossing. His goal was, and still is, to connect people across the world through postcards.
Heather Young is a keen postcrosser from Preston. After 32 years of teaching astronomy and physics in secondary schools, Heather has now retired and enjoys making things with sustainable and recycled materials. Last month she received over forty postcards from across the globe! Here Heather explains more about Postcrossing.
What inspired you to take part in postcrossing?
I’ve always liked sending postcards when I’ve visited places, especially to my Mum. Sadly, five years ago she passed away. She left my sisters and I boxes filled with things she had saved that we had given her; birthday cards, bits of pottery made at school, photographs. In mine where all the postcards I had sent her from everywhere I had been, from school trips to holidays abroad. It was a record of all my travels. By strange coincidence, a couple of months later an old school friend posted a picture, on her social media, of a postcard she has received from postcrossing. Since joining I have sent 1201 postcards and received over 1189 postcards from 54 countries.
What do you enjoy about postcrossing?
I enjoy reading about the recipient on their profile, seeing what kind of postcard they might like, as you can express a preference. Then, choosing just the right postcard and stamps to put on it. It’s quite a mindful activity and it’s not often I get chance to write by hand. I always make a point at buying the special issue stamps when they come out, otherwise our stamps are a bit boring compared with some of the amazing ones from other countries. It is clear from the postcards that I have received that other postcrossers take the same care in their selection for me.
Has postcrossing helped during the pandemic?
Yes, it has been a real treat to get postcards from far flung places and read about the lives of other people. It makes you feel so connected to the rest of the humanity. Writing at least one postcard a day is a good motivator to go for your daily exercise walk to the post box, especially if you don’t feel like it or the weather is bad. Pre lockdown days, it was always fun when visiting places to buy postcards, a good excuse to visit the gift shop! The one at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, in Preston, always had a good selection of local cards, but as we aren’t able to travel I have been buying postcards online from photographers and artists, in Lancashire and Cumbria, which is definitely something I will continue to do when lockdown is over.
Would you recommend postcrossing to other people?
Definitely. Especially at the moment when all our travel is vicarious, but even when restrictions are eventually lifted it is humbling to connect with people in countries I will never visit and learn about their lives and culture.
Does it cost anything to take part?
Post crossing is completely free to take part in. However, lots of postcrossers become a supporter for €10 a year, but that is optional. You do have to buy the postcards and stamps, but you can send as many or as few postcards as you like, but I warn you it can get addictive. You start with being able to send up to five. When one you send is registered at its destination someone else will send you one. The more you send, the more you are able to send. At any one time there are about 500,000 postcards travelling. During lockdown I’ve been sending, and receiving, about thirty a month!
If you’d like to take part in Postcrossing, you can find out more information and sign up on the Postcrossing website.
Local artists and photographers making and selling postcards featuring Preston’s best loved landmarks and parks.
Dave Robinson is a freelance illustrator and designer based in Preston. He sells a range of postcards and prints featuring his colourful illustrations of Preston’s landmarks. https://daverobdesignshop.myshopify.com/collections/all
Tim from Secret Industries is a graphic designer selling a range of prints and postcards featuring bold typography and Northern sayings, as well as illustrations of some of our favourite buildings in Preston. https://www.numonday.com/shop/secret-industries/
Lisa Brown is a photographer based in Preston. She sells a range of postcard packs and prints featuring beautiful, striking images of Preston’s parks and landmarks. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LisaBrownPhotography