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Pen Pals Connect Generations during Lockdown

NCS graduates use lockdown to create pen pal scheme with local care home.

Palace for Life Foundation NCS graduates have spent their free time in January writing letters to elderly members of the community, in a hope to prevent loneliness in what is England’s third national lockdown.

A pen pal scheme saw young people reconnect with a local Barchester care home, which Palace for Life partnered with during the 2020 NCS programme, where participants had volunteered to renovate communal gardens, creating a welcoming and happier outdoor space for the residents to enjoy.

With the pandemic having a profound impact on so many people’s lives, reducing in person contact and socialisation, our NCS graduates decided to reach out to those most isolated and lonely during this time, by creating a pen pal scheme with the care home they had previously volunteered their time at. Despite not being able to support residents in person, young people have overcome this barrier, and exchanged letters via email. Each young person wrote a letter sharing their interests, future goals and coping strategies to get through lockdown.

Whilst many letters spoke about their hobbies and interests, one graduate spoke about how the NCS programme had inspired them to do more for their community: “My connection to NCS and Palace for Life has been amazing, to take me out of my comfort zone and meet people I never would have met otherwise. It has opened my eyes to many issues in our community and has given me a passion to want to make a difference myself.”

The aim behind the scheme is to connect the younger and older generations, creating links, exploring similarities and sharing advice. Hopefully this will help elderly members feel in touch with the community outside the care home, and give a shared sense of emotion as we move forward this year.

One NCS graduate, Ella, has over 40 pen pals, she said: “I love to penpal because I love talking to people with different experiences and love learning about other cultures and their traditions. It’s also an easy way to make new friends!”

We hope these letters will bring joy to residents, helping to spread a positive mindset . We are extremely proud of our young people who put vulnerable groups at the focal point of their projects, and want to continue to support the community going forward in the toughest of times.

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