Care home residents launch pen pal scheme

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Residents from four Yorkshire care homes are bringing back the tradition of writing to pen pals in celebration of the UN’s International Day of Friendship.

Taking place on Tuesday 30th July, the global day of celebration prompted residents from four Ideal Carehomes – Lydgate Lodge in Batley, Dewsbury’s Ashworth Grange, Greenacres in Meltham and Castleford’s Newfield Lodge – to put pen to paper and write letters to counterparts living in different homes.

It is hoped that the new programme will become a permanent feature of daily life as new friendships are made and old ones reignited.

Jessica Skirrow, lifestyle manager at Greenacres care home, said: “Our residents love the sentiment behind the International Day of Friendship and with over 200 people living with us in homes across the region, we decided that it would be a wonderful idea to breathe new life into the pen pal tradition as a way of keeping in touch and building new friendships.

“In a world of emails, WhatsApp and social media, a handwritten letter or postcard can bring so much joy and for many, brings back memories of writing to pen pals during their school days or sending post cards to family members whilst on holiday. Residents from our Yorkshire homes will be getting together in person at our 1940s Summer Dance Party in August but we hope that the letters will prompt some new conversations before then.”

Greenacres resident, Joan Andrews, added: “I have been writing letters since the age of 16 – I would never go a Christmas without writing a letter to my friends and family. I had a pen friend who lived in America and would always send her letters so we could communicate. I enjoyed hearing about her life and reading about the things she had done in the week. I have fond memories of sitting in my sitting room writing letters and smiling from the memories I would write. I am now 92 and still remember writing my letters.”

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