A pilot project to tackle loneliness in the elderly by asking schoolchildren to write to them is to be extended following its success.
The Kindness Post Box scheme included four primary schools in the Banbridge area along with Kidz Patch playgroup in Lurgan, as well as nine care homes across the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council area.
Ozanam Men’s Shed in Lurgan, led by Michael Cairns, made the post boxes which were delivered to the participating schools and community venues.
The idea is for children to write a cheerful letter, draw a picture or card and then post it into a specially created post box.
All mail is collected and distributed to care home residents and those separated from family and friends, with the aim of putting a smile on their faces.
Homes across the ABC area which took part included Spelga Mews in Banbridge, Mahon Hall in Portadown and Belvedere Residential Home in Lurgan.
The primary schools which participated were St Mary’s, Bridge Integrated, Ballydown and Edenderry – all in Banbridge.
The project was devised by the ABC Loneliness Network in conjunction with the Southern Trust.
The original idea for the ‘Kindness Post Box’ came from Fermanagh woman Nuala O’Toole at the start of the pandemic.
Promoting Wellbeing manager for Craigavon and Banbridge Sinead Taylor said: “This project was so well received and the children who took part were very enthusiastic and wanted to know all about the residents.
“Residents in the care homes are looking forward to sending some return post.
“The ‘Kindness Post Box’ is a way of enabling those who may feel isolated and are separated from loved ones to feel connected through a thoughtful, hand written card, letter or picture.
“We want to highlight how small acts of kindness can have a huge impact.”
Gerard Rocks, assistant director for Promoting Wellbeing added: “The aim of the ABC Loneliness Network is to raise awareness of the public health impact of loneliness and to improve the lives of people in our communities who are experiencing loneliness.
“A major consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic for many older adults has been isolation from family and friends but loneliness affects people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Staying connected with others is essential to physical and mental wellbeing.”
ABC Loneliness Network plans to expand the pilot further in 2022. Any school, care home or organisation which would like to take part should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or Tel: 028 3756 3949