Schoolchildren writing to elderly in project designed to combat loneliness

Barking Dagenham Newham Redbridge elderly pen pal initiative

Schools in Newham, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham are involved in a charity initiative which sees pupils write to elderly care home residents. - Credit: Supporting Humanity

Pupils at schools in Redbridge, Newham and Barking and Dagenham are writing to the elderly as part of a project to combat loneliness.

Schoolchildren from Years 4-6 will write to local care home residents as part of the Love Through a Letterbox initiative.

Organised by mental health charity Supporting Humanity, the project intends to reduce loneliness among the older population.

Care homes set to benefit are Birchwood Residential in Clayhall Avenue, Manor Park's Mornington Hall, Barchester Westgate House in Forest Gate and Ilford's Sahara House.

Redbridge schools involved include Highlands Primary School and Chigwell School, while Manor Primary School and Woodgrange Infant School - in Stratford and Forest Gate respectively - have also signed up.

Beam County Primary School in Barking and Dagenham is also taking part. 

While Supporting Humanity's main work over the past year has centred around bereavement counselling, it has also been looking at how loneliness has ratcheted up during the pandemic. 

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Founder Idris Patel said: "The reason we decided to do this campaign is because we want to let the elderly know they are not forgotten, and that people care about them.

"Mental health is real and so many people are suffering with it, we just hope that Supporting Humanity as a charity can help in our own small way to brighten up someone’s day."

Ilford charity combatting loneliness with project

The scheme is the first intergenerational project piloted by Supporting Humanity, with hopes of organising other such initiatives in the future. - Credit: Supporting Humanity

Sandeep Kaur, associate headteacher at Highlands Primary School, said: "Highlands are proud to be a part of the great initiative. The children have gone to great lengths when writing the letters, some of the letters made the staff cry.

"Children are hoping for some responses so they can continue to reach out and make people smile."

Pupils at Manor Primary School have "relished" the chance to take part, said deputy headteacher Petra Collins: "Today children rarely write or receive letters as communication has become so tech-based, so getting involved with this was a lovely way for them to learn the art of letter writing, while making an older person feel special."

For more information visit on Twitter or @supportinghumanitycharity on Facebook.