Schoolchildren's letters ease lockdown loneliness

Published Friday, 12 February 2021

Children from a primary school in Coventry have formed friendships with many older residents in the community, by sending them letters.

Two people writing to each other

Pupils from Richard Lee Primary started writing to residents of a local care home In December to help them feel less isolated, by sharing jokes, a little about themselves and stories about school.

With help from NHS Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group, the children were able to pass their letters on to residents of Eden House care home and receive replies.

Lauren Anderson, Year 2 Leader of Richard Lee Primary said: 

“The children were incredibly excited to share their thoughts with a ‘real person’ and were delighted when they received an abundance of replies the next day.

"It was incredible to hear their life stories and experiences; growing up during World War 2, being a child in Coventry and their own school memories.  One resident informed us they are 104 and the children were so amazed by this; they had many questions about what life was like at 104, including whether they still had their birthday card from the Queen when turning 100!  Another resident spoke of the birds they enjoy watching in the garden at Eden House and children were excited they would be the same ones as we see in our school.

"Some of the residents needed support from the staff to be able to reply and we are very grateful to them for ensuring all the residents could take part.  Having spoken to the manager at Eden House, we hope that we can offer the children and residents more opportunities to write to each other throughout the year and beyond the pandemic. "

Lauren was inspired by the ‘Classrooms to Care Homes’ scheme, organised by the Times Educational Supplement, which focusses on easing loneliness of the elderly who have less access to families and the wider world through the pandemic.

Manager of Eden House care home, Laura Hambridge, commented:

"Our residents were absolutely thrilled to receive the letters and thoroughly enjoyed replying. I have to admit we did shed some tears reading the heartfelt letters and replies.  

"Those that were unable to write replies were supported by staff to ensure they could be part of the beautiful project. Staff wrote down the replies word for word to ensure the letter truly come from the resident. . Many of our residents said they would love to receive more letters, reply to them and build up new friendships with the children. A few have also said that maybe one day when this pandemic is over we could come and share some of our stories with them in person."

Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Councillor Kevin Maton added:

“It’s lovely to see pupils from Richard Lee taking the initiative to think of others in the community and do something positive to help.  I’m sure the school children loved hearing back from the Eden House residents as much as the residents loved receiving the letters and pictures from the children.”

Councillor Mal Mutton, Cabinet Member for Adult Services, said: 

“Staff in our care homes often do extra to put themselves out for the benefit of the residents as this story shows.  Eden House staff have really shown consideration to the elderly residents by helping them take part when they’ve needed help and to the schoolchildren by helping them receive such lovely replies.

"Well done and a big thank you to everyone involved. I hope that this story will inspire other schools and care homes to take part in this wonderful initiative."

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