Handwritten notes addressed to strangers are being left around Manchester city centre
Handwritten notes penned by a stranger on the other side of the world have been appearing on the streets of Manchester, giving a heartwarming lift to eagle-eyed locals in need of a few kind words.
The letters, all titled ‘Dear Stranger,’ are brimming with kindness and positivity and have been bringing a smile to the faces of passers-by in the city centre over the past few weeks.
Written by author and adopted Manc Jay Ventress, to date the campaign has spread across the globe with letters appearing in the UK, Belgium, Australia, and the United States of America.
His letter writing campaign first began as a coping mechanism at the start of the pandemic, because, as he says himself, “at the time everything felt dark, I was a Brit trapped in Australia, so to brighten up my life I began writing little letters to make a stranger smile to make me smile.”
Three years on, they have been spotted in both Manchester and Leeds – with one person in Manchester even taking the time to post a letter back in response.
Jay’s letter, which has been taped to a box on Stevenson Square, advises its readers: “When life turns cold, that’s life’s brutal gift to remind you to open your eyes to the hidden beauty of the world. To grab that hidden beauty and gift it to another stranger who might feel down.”
“If you’re stuck in a job you hate, failing school, lost and lonely living in a big city, it’s the little memories in your day that stand out and make you smile for a second.
“Moments like a stranger smiling at you, somebody opening the door for you, or finding a little letter of encouragement to remind you how special you are.”
The full letter reads: ‘Dear Stranger, sometimes when life feels tough, when everything feels painful, cold, that’s when you wake up.
“You desperately search everywhere and anywhere for a slither of hope. Like right now, look at you!
“You found my secret letter! You’re more observant than most!
“I started writing my letters in Australia, during the pandemic, because at the time everything felt dark, I was a Brit trapped in Australia, so to brighten up my life I began writing little letters to make a stranger smile to make me smile.
“If you’re stuck in a job you hate, failing school, lost nd lonely living in a big city, it’s the little memories in your day that stand out and make you smile for a second.
“Moments like a stranger smiling at you, somebody opening the door for you, or finding a little letter of encouragement to remind you how special you are. When life turns cold, that’s life’s brutal gift to remind you to open your eyes to the hidden beauty of the world. To grab that hidden beauty and gift it to another stranger who might feel down.
“Like you are doing now, if you choose to open your eyes too see, you’ll find so much beauty and if you gift that beauty to another soul, I assure you, life will reward you too.
In response to Jay’s letter, at least one local person has taken it upon themselves to write back to thank him for his efforts.
In a post shared to Jay’s Instagram of different responses from around the world, one like-minded Manc wrote: “Hi! I hope you are well! I saw your note in Manchester today, and I just wanted to share how touching I found it.
“As someone who as also struggled in the past, I keep a long notes list in my phone of ‘moments of unsaid love’ that I witness to remind myself of how much around us goes unnoticed.
“It was so lovely to read something from someone likeminded, and I saw your note just when I needed to be reminded myself. Thank you again, I hope you have a lovely day Jay!”
The 26-year-old letter writer originally hails from Yorkshire, but moved to Manchester as a teenager and worked in the city before deciding to travel the world four years ago.
Officers have been carrying out searches of people arriving on site this week – and have already arrested a 24-year-old man.
A quantity of pills and a knife were both recovered from the man, who has been arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs and possession of a bladed article.
After the arrest, Superintendent Phil Spurgeon issued a statement to criminals, saying ‘don’t bother coming to Parklife’.
He said: “We have a really robust police and partnership community safety operation for the festival, and the arrest and seizure yesterday demonstrates the vigilance of security staff, our thorough search procedures and our commitment to keeping people safe.
“Make no mistake, illegal items such as weapons and drugs can have fatal consequences. Our top priority this weekend is keeping people safe, and anyone caught trying to take such items into the festival will be robustly dealt with.
“I hope the genuine festival-goers are excited for the fantastic weekend ahead and I am confident the majority will enjoy the event responsibly and safely.”
Greater Manchester Police and Parklife security staff will be working closely together to intercept anyone travelling to the festival with criminal intentions.
The arrest on 8 June was thanks to the festival’s drug detection dogs.