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National care provider backs pen pal scheme to combat loneliness amid coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 06:45 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:16 08 April 2020

Healthcare Homes residents writing and receiving letters from pen friends. The care provider has joined forces with the Here to Help: Not Alone campaign. Picture: HEALTHCARE HOMES

Healthcare Homes residents writing and receiving letters from pen friends. The care provider has joined forces with the Here to Help: Not Alone campaign. Picture: HEALTHCARE HOMES

Picture: HEALTHCARE HOMES

A care provider has joined forces with a pen friend initiative to keep people communicating during the coronavirus pandemic.

Healthcare Homes residents writing and receiving letters from pen friends. The care provider has joined forces with the Here to Help: Not Alone campaign. Picture: HEALTHCARE HOMESHealthcare Homes residents writing and receiving letters from pen friends. The care provider has joined forces with the Here to Help: Not Alone campaign. Picture: HEALTHCARE HOMES

Heathcare Homes, which has care homes in Norfolk and Suffolk, has offered to be part of our Here to Help: Not Alone campaign which aims to tackle social isolation during this time.

The care provider, which is based in Colchester, Essex, and also provides assistance to people living in their own home, has previously organised a similar scheme itself and is now reaching out further afield to help its residents and clients.

A spokesperson for Healthcare Homes said: “We are collaborating and joining our efforts to connect people via the medium of writing.

“It’s lovely to be able to work together on this and have such support – everyone really appreciates it and it’s such a great idea.”

Reporter Donna-Louise Bishop launching the Not Alone (pen pal initiative) string of the Here to Help campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYReporter Donna-Louise Bishop launching the Not Alone (pen pal initiative) string of the Here to Help campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

READ MORE: Support ramps up for project helping tackle loneliness amid coronavirus.

At a time when people may not be receiving visitors as usual, the company says one way to encourage people from communities across the country to help is by becoming a pen friend.

The organisation has a total of 45 care homes across the south as well as the east of England, including 11 in Norfolk and five homecare branches. It has a further 12 care homes in Suffolk and one homecare branch.

The spokesperson added: “We are trying to encourage people to write not only to the residents that live in Healthcare Homes’ residential and nursing homes across Norfolk, but also to those people who are receiving care in their own homes, through the group’s homecare team – Manorcourt Homecare.

“It would be great to be able to connect people in these challenging times as letters and paintings are really well received.”

Speaking about the pen friend scheme, operations director Anthony Beorby said: “It’s an unsettling time and many residents are not receiving their usual visits from friends or relatives.

“We thought it would be a great idea to ask the community to therefore consider becoming a pen pal with one of our residents. With many children also away from school we thought they too might enjoy writing letters or drawing pictures for the people we care for.

“Feel free to therefore ask your children or grandchildren to paint or colour some pictures and, for any of you that would like to write a letter, please do so. Let’s raise everyone’s spirits.”

Here to Help: Not Alone - How can I become a pen friend?

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Last month, the EDP and Norwich Evening News unveiled its latest campaign, Here to Help, in a bid to create an army of helpers to step in to offer extra support.

Together with Norfolk County Council (NCC), a new string has been added to the campaign’s bow in the form of Here to Help: Not Alone.

The initiative aims to tackle concerns and alleviate issues surrounding loneliness as more and more people find themselves at home. The idea is to make sure that as many people as possible do not feel on their own during this time.

Becoming a Here to Help pen friend could appeal to residents in care homes, people who want to build new friendships, parents or careers who want a project to do at home with children, or anyone who simply wants to send and receive letters, postcards, cards, a poem or a drawing either regularly or as a one-off – the list is endless.

• To get in touch email Donna-Louise.Bishop@archant.co.uk with the subject header “Here to Help: Not Alone”, your contact details, the type of involvement you would like to have, and the preference of person or group you would like to write to and/or hear from. We will then put you in touch with each other.

Here to Help Campaign

With Norfolk County Council, we have launched our Here to Help campaign in a bid to create an army of helpers to step in to offer that extra support.

Clearly, there are safety issues of which to be aware but there are all ways in which we can help - whether that’s dropping off food, walking a pet, phoning someone on their own or just pointing them in the direction of the most up to date advice.

We’ve included a Here to Help postcard, which we would love to see people post through their neighbours’ letterboxes.

For more information or to download cards click here .

For updates, visit our Facebook page Norfolk Coronavirus Updates .

Join our Here to Help Facebook page here .

• If you are doing something to help in your community email donna-louise.bishop@archant.co.uk.

Subscribe to our daily coronavirus newsletter, with all the latest from where you live here .


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