Children’s letters can help tackle loneliness in the community

Children from local schools are being encouraged to write a letter to a elderly member of the community.
Children from local schools are being encouraged to write a letter to a elderly member of the community.

Loneliness can affect anyone at any time. It has a massive impact on wellbeing and can be a serious life-threatening condition with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. 

But here in East Renfrewshire that’s all set to change for the better with a brand new initiative.

A local councillor has decided to tackle the issue head on with help from the Tomorrow’s Older People team by setting up an exchange letters project.

Penfriend-ER connects the community with local children through regular letters. It is hoped the project will reduce isolation and loneliness for a sometimes forgotten section of our community, but will also provide an opportunity to share skills and experiences across the generations.

Similar schemes have proved to be very successful in helping lonely people reconnect with their community.

Claire from the Tomorrow’s Older People team said: “We were delighted when Cllr Convery asked for our help. We have been able to bring everything together to connect people through letters. It is a fantastic opportunity for our school children to support people in the community.

Tomorrow’s Older People is all about reducing loneliness and isolation with the involvement of local people and organisations. This initiative is a perfect example of how communities can and do support each other in so many ways.”

Several primary schools have signed up to the initiative. Councillor Convery said: “PenfriendER is a fantastic initiative that will bring together our community by swapping stories and sharing life experiences. We thought this would be a great idea to support the curriculum, improving literacy skills as well as the art of letter writing, we know people love to receive a letter through the door.

“We’re sure the community will enjoy reading the adventures the children get up to as well as sharing their memories. I’m so pleased so many schools are taking part but our goal is for all schools in East Renfrewshire to become involved.”

The initiative has been developed by Councillor Convery, HSCP and The Richmond Fellowship Scotland in conjunction with Tomorrow’s Older People which is a two-year Community Fund programme led by Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire (VAER).

To register your interest, email your details to penfriendER@eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk, post a note to Tomorrow’s Older People, 56 Kelburn Street, Barrhead, G78 1LR or call them on 0141 876 9555.