Norwich children help to tackle loneliness through pen friend scheme

Drayton CofE Junior School children with their letters for pen friends which are being sent throughout April  

Drayton CofE Junior School children with their letters for pen friends which are being sent throughout April - Credit: Submitted

Primary school children in Norwich have been helping to tackle loneliness amongst older people as they pen regular letters to bring a smile to faces.

The Norwich Together Alliance has teamed up with Age UK Norwich and Drayton CofE Junior School for the scheme which sees 50 isolated people receive a handwritten postcard throughout April, asking if they would like to be pen pals.

The children, who are aged from 7-11, will then continue writing to the lonely people with messages and pictures about what they have been up to. 

Michael Silvester, a teacher at Drayton Junior School, said: "We’re delighted to be involved with this project. It’s so important, particularly in current times, that children learn the value of communication and how we can all make a difference to each other’s wellbeing.

"The children are really looking forward to designing their postcards and hearing back from the recipients.”  

Printing and postage of the postcards have been donated by local construction firm Pentaco, and Age UK Norwich will be sending these out to those who are alone and without friends or family close by.

“Norwich is one of the friendliest places to live but also suffers with a high level of people saying they feel lonely,” said Tracey Drake, development lead of the Norwich Together Alliance.

“Connecting people now has never been so prevalent, and truly magical things happen when you work with inter-generation. What better way to make someone feel connected by receiving a letter designed by a child? Something different in the digital world in which we live. Our aim is by working as a collective we will prevent people having to suffer the poverty loneliness.” 

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Nicolette Neile, fundraising and volunteer coordinator for Age UK Norwich, added:  “Now, more than never, we need to help older people keep connected and this is a wonderful example of generations coming together during this incredibly difficult time.

"With everything becoming increasingly digital or online, some people are getting left behind and can go days or weeks without seeing or speaking to someone so receiving a letter and hearing what the children have been up to will really brighten up someone’s day and make a huge difference to their mental health and wellbeing.”