Tuesday, 5 March 2024
Tuesday, 5 March 2024

Charity pen pal scheme links French students with care home residents

STUDENTS from France have written letters to older people in Sheffield through a charity pen pal scheme in a bid to learn more about life in the UK during World War II.

Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care (SCCCC) started up a pen pal scheme back in March 2020 after their Good Neighbour befriending service was suspended due to covid. The pen pal scheme was such a success that the charity decided to continue the free service despite life returning to a new normal.

Ben Webster, who runs the scheme said:

“We have had a fantastic response to the pen pal scheme, what started out as a local campaign has now reached across the globe and we have received letters from Canada, Singapore, Japan and Greece.”

Ben received an email from a school in Brittany, France where the students were studying history, they wanted to know more about life in the UK during the Second World War. The group of students wrote letters talking about their lives in France and asking questions about the experiences people faced during the war.

Now award-winning Hallamshire Care Home in Sheffield, which specialises in high-quality Dementia care, have joined the scheme. The residents have enjoyed reading the letter and hearing about life in France.

Karen Betts, care home manager said:

“Residents were encouraged to read a letter from two children who live in France sent via the Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care Pen Pal Scheme. The letter was in handwriting which was difficult for the residents to read so it was typed out in large print to aid reading. Barbara and Nicole seemed to enjoy having the letter read out to them, whilst Norah Meurer and Bryan Clay read it independently. Bryan was happy to go down memory lane and answer some of their questions about World War II and using this information we wrote a letter in reply and signed it.’’

The letter from the care home will be sent back to the students in France via the SCCCC pen pal scheme. Coordinator Ben Webster said:

“Since the launch of the scheme we have received 6,500 pieces of happy post, reaching out to isolated older people across the city and helping to keep them socially connected. The feedback we have received has been incredible, it’s amazing the joy that a handwritten letter can bring to an older person living alone.’’

If you would like to join our pen pal scheme head to: www.scccc.co.uk/volunteer/pen-pal-scheme.

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