More than 500 people sign up to Here to Help: Not Alone pen friend scheme

Reporter Donna-Louise Bishop launched the Not Alone (pen pal initiative) part of the Here to Help ca

Reporter Donna-Louise Bishop launched the Not Alone (pen pal initiative) part of the Here to Help campaign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Nearly two months ago the Eastern Daily Press launched its Here to Help: Not Alone pen friend initiative to help combat social isolation and loneliness during lockdown.

The project has gone on to connect more than 500 people across the globe - a testament to the strength of our community and the importance of keeping in touch in these unprecedented times.

Nick Secker is the manager of Kirkley Manor in Lowestoft, which is using the scheme as a way of building connections between their residents and people around the world.

Mr Secker said: “We’ve only recently joined and we received our first letter this week - a lovely letter from a lady living down in the south west.

“We’ve already seen the benefit of this type of scheme. It helps our residents keep their minds and imaginations stimulated. It’s something they can look forward to, and in some cases it’s the highlight of their week - getting a message from a new friend.”

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Stephen Pullinger, from Kingsley Healthcare Group, added: “Here to Help is a great opportunity because during the Covid outbreak care homes have had to lock down and residents haven’t had family visits. It’s so important that people in care homes feel part of the wider community.”

Adam Clarke, aged seven, of Cawston, said it was amazing to be involved.

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He added: “My favourite bit has been sending letters and thinking of things to write.

“I felt excited waiting for the postman to deliver a letter. I couldn’t wait to open my letter too.

“I’ve enjoyed writing about what I like doing and playing.”

His younger brother James, aged five, has also been matched with a pen friend.

He said: “I felt a little shy writing to my friend but I’m glad I did.

“I liked getting a letter from her and I have sent her something back too.”

Together they added: “Everyone should get themselves a pen pal.”

It’s not too late to sign up. Just send an email to express your interest in being involved to and someone will get back to you.

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