A charity is offering to send packs of letters from young people into care homes to put smiles on the faces of residents.
In normal times YOPEY runs befriending schemes where young people – known as YOPEY Befrienders or YOPEY Dementia Befrienders – visit care homes, mainly in the East of England.
“These visits stopped with the lockdown, but our young volunteers still wanted to do their bit,” said charity founder Tony Gearing MBE. “So we started a letter-writing scheme where young people write to care home residents.
“Some are writing to the elderly people they made friends with before the lockdown, but many want to do more and are writing to residents in any care homes.
“We have also recruited young people from outside our area who were not YOPEY Befrienders before and also want to do their bit. The young want to show they are thinking of the elderly and concerned for their safety, and some are forming penpal friendships with particular residents.”
YOPEY has already sent out hundreds of letters to well over 100 care homes nationwide, but is looking for more care homes to take part.
All letters are sent in packs of about 20 – illustrated with photos of the young people, their hobbies and their artwork – to each care home that asks to take part by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The charity is not putting anything in the post to avoid the risk of transmitting Covid-19 from one location to another.
Once one pack has been read by residents – and maybe a few of the letter writers have received replies from those residents able to write back – the home can request another pack.
Mr Gearing added: “This is a free service we are offering to all care homes in the UK. It is not compulsory to reply to the letters as we know care homes are under huge pressure.
“The feedback we are getting from the care homes already taking part is that their elderly residents really love the letters from the young people.”
For more information visit the charity’s new Facebook page @IwanttohelpCareHomeResidents.