A Hertfordshire care home has teamed up with a local girls’ school in a bid to strengthen community connection and form long-lasting intergenerational friendships by relaunching its pen pal project – marking the first of several events to celebrate Good Care Month.
Foxholes Care Home and Hitchin Girls’ School recently resumed its mission to help foster friendships the old-fashioned way by sharing letters between residents and students,
after the scheme which initially launched in February last year had to be paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
To mark the relaunch, residents Shirley Saunders, 82, and Pam Colicott, 73, visited the Highbury Road school to distribute the latest batch of letters from residents, which were for a mix of pupils in secondary and sixth form education.
The project will see 22 residents and students pair up to exchange handwritten letters seasonally throughout the year. The letters contained information documenting key elements of their lives, such as name, age, family information (marital status, no. of children/ grandchildren), which served as a mini-bio to aid the introductory process.
The relaunch included the students’ teacher taking the time to read through each letter and appropriately match them with a pupil, whose interests, background and hobbies align with a suitable resident.
The family-run home decided to relaunch the project to coincide with Good Care Month, a campaign in Hertfordshire that aims to raise the profile of the social care sector throughout July.
Shirley said: “It was such a pleasant experience to visit the school and see the girls’ wonderful young faces again. The pen pal scheme is a great idea and enables two different generations to connect, share and enjoy each other’s stories. Following a year of social distancing and isolating, it was touching to reconnect with the children, and we look forward to the next letter exchange.”
Theresa Lowe, a teacher at Hitchin Girls’ School, added: “It has been a pleasure to be involved with this project. Students across all age groups have really enjoyed listening to the letters from residents at Foxholes this week and are currently writing back. It was also fantastic that two Year 9 students in Bronte House got to meet Pam and Shirley in person, even if only from a distance. We look forward to continuing the project in the future.”
Neil Gandecha, Estate Manager at Foxholes Care Home, said: “We’re really excited to continue our collaboration with Hitchin Girls’ School on this pen pal project, especially with it coinciding with Good Care Month.
“Friendships, especially those formed from our school days, are sacred, and the same is true for care homes. We wanted to remind the younger generation how important it is to preserve these friendships and wanted to offer them the chance to learn from our inspiring residents. Every resident has lived a full, eventful life with an array of knowledge and wisdom to share.”