Reducing loneliness, one postcard at a time

If you didn’t know already, my main aspiration is to be a doctor. Some of the many skills that are necessary to practice medicine or even just to be a well rounded person is communication and reflection.

Over lockdown I have been really trying to work on my mental health and one rainy day I had been feeling incredibly low but fortunately I have very close friends who I can speak to when I’m feeling lonely or anxious… then it hit me. Some people are incredibly isolated, who can they talk to? I felt a rock settle in my stomach and dread washed over me as I placed myself in someone’s shoes who potentially hasn’t communicated with anyone over the pandemic and it brought me to tears.

I realised in that moment I am blessed to be able to write and communicate and I strive to make a difference in people’s lives and make them brighter. Incredibly, my local Duke of Edinburgh Award has asked current and previous members if anyone would want to write letters to care home residents; my fingers never typed a reply faster – YES.

You may have seen us in the local news when we got to meet some of our residents, I feel truly blessed when I am bestowed with memories and information about someone who has lived through some incredible times. I love being part of a scheme where we are breaking down the stigma of the younger generation being “lazy” and instead demonstrating that we do have the ability to communicate and learn from our elders.

Care Home Managers have welcomed this connection being made between those they care for and the younger generation.

Kim Butters, Registered Manager at Fairways Care Home said:

“On behalf of the residents we would like to thank all the children who have taken their time to send in such lovely and thoughtful postcards. Our residents have enjoyed reading the messages and are in the process of completing their replies. We are grateful for the time and effort the children have put into the postcard completion and the wonderful artwork the children have sent. We are always looking for ways to connect our residents with the local community and the postcard idea is such a great way of achieving this. Hopefully when things get back to some sort of normality we will be able to invite the children to the home, where they can share their stories face to face.”

Every week I wait avidly for my reply from the wonderful residents, itching to know what I will learn this week – I have to thank the managers who have matched us wonderfully, my resident comes from a family of healthcare professionals and it’s been so calming and comforting when she tells me about her experiences and cheeky reminders to take a break from studying. We see pictures of the young people’s contributions to the care home such as baking, poems, artwork and letters and it really warms my heart because I know I am contributing to a wonderful scheme where no one is alone.

If I can tell anyone who is reading this one thing; it would be that life is so precious. Life is too short to be surrounded by people who keep you down, instead surround yourself with people who value your assets and help you work on your struggles. Age UK Said that half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all, so please reach out. My challenge for you this week is to say hello to anyone who passes you on the street- wish them a good day and don’t forget to smile.

Article by Young Reporter Alex Cross
First published in Grimsby Telegraph on 21st July 2020