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Make a Pen Pal in BR7

by Alexandra Whatley

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A pen friend project for your local care home

 
We’re amidst Coronavirus and bound to stay at home to help slow down the spread of the virus. Besides our yoga, books that we read and films that we watch, we could help other people by getting our children to become pen friends for a local care home. It doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t take up a lot of time, it’s personal and it will make a difference. Not everyone has someone to check up on them and as they stopped visits in care homes they feel even lonelier.  
If you want your children to write to a care home in Chislehurst, please get in touch with me so I can send out the names of the individuals and the address. I would add that a little drawing always brightens up everyone’s mood, so encourage your children to draw something positive in the letter, maybe next to some of their favourite things. 
Below you will find writing prompts and a few drawing ideas.  If you live in a different country/city and would like to do a similar project, you could get started by asking your friends or neighbours if they know of any care homes nearby, if not then you can go onto google and simply search for “care homes around me” or the equivalent of this in your language. Contact them via phone or email, explain who you are and what you would like to do for them and ask if they would be interested in receiving more from other people, in which case you can go ahead and post on local facebook groups.
 Try to take out individual names if they are happy to give them to you. Please be mindful that they might be extremely busy at the moment,so they might not answer their phone or email straight away. 
Lastly, when posting the letter, make sure that you are not touching the letterbox without gloves and take all the safety measures yourself as an adult. Well done for wanting to be part of this lovely initiative! 

Please do not send handwritten letters, if you or any person in your household has displayed symptoms of being unwell in any way in the last 14 days.

THE VIRAL LETTER PROJECT

On the 19 th of March, a care home operator in Haverhill Suffolk UK, took the very difficult decision to suspend visitors to their home’s effect immediately in order to protect the health and safety of their residents.
They vowed to do everything in their power to keep people in touch with their loved ones, using every means available – telephone, video calls, emails, traditional letters and cards, but this still wasn’t going to be an easy task.
So they made one very special public request.
They proposed a special letter-writing project –  A pen friend project.
Asking local children if they would like to write handwritten letters to residents in an effort to lift their spirits and bring an extra smile to their faces while they couldn’t see their families and couldn’t go outside.
A small act of kindness that would cost almost nothing but a little time.
An act of kindness that could make all the difference to someone feeling isolated and alone.
Particularly those confused at the sudden disappearance of family, or those without any family, who had come to rely on their walks out and about for their daily dose of human contact.
Not everyone has someone to check in on them, grab something nice from the shops for them or drop off homemade cakes to them. 
 

LETTER WRITING PROMPTS

HOW TO START YOUR LETTER

Unless your care home gives you the name of a person, or a list of people who are particularly in need of an extra lift (there will be people like this – you could always ask), it’s best to keep opening lines general. 
That way one letter can be shown to a number of different people.
A simple “Hello” is fine, or if you prefer, “To whoever reads this message”. 

WHAT TO WRITE NEXT – 20 LETTER WRITING PROMPTS FOR CHILDREN

The best letters are friendly, interested and conversational, so you could include any of the prompts below.  Your letter doesn’t have be pages long.
  1. My name is …………………….. and I am also in isolation at the moment. I’m really looking forward to writing to you.
  2. How are you doing at the moment? or  I hope you are well.
  3. My favourite things.
  4. My favourite foods & things I like to cook.
  5. My talents and thing’s I’m really good at.
  6. Thing’s I like to collect.
  7. Three things I’ve been doing since isolation started – Schoolwork, board games, painting rainbows, other activities.
  8. The best and worst parts of my week.
  9. My favourite school subjects.
  10. Books I’m reading.
  11. Thing’s I’m watching on tv or listening to.
  12. How we’re exercising.
  13. Three things I’ve seen – Out of the window, in my garden, while on my walk.
  14. People I’ve spoken to and things they’ve said (On the phone, neighbours over the garden fence, yelling across the road).
  15. The weather! – Always an easy one.
  16. A little story from my life: I remember when ………………..
  17. Questions, questions, questions (well……. 2 or 3 questions anyway. Don’t go over the top).
  18. If I had 3 wishes……….
  19. I have sent you a picture that I have drawn, a short story or poem that I’ve written, a flower that I’ve pressed.
  20. Thank you for writing back to me   or Thank you for sharing your story with me (this only works if the letters are being sent both ways). 
 
 

HOW TO WRAP IT UP

  1. If you would like to write to me, I have enclosed my address.
You can say “I’ll look forward to hearing from you”, but only if you know they’re going to be able to write back.  No pressure.
  1. I like writing letters to you. It’s fine if you can’t write back. 
To contact Alexandra – click here
 
 
 

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