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School launches 'Pen-Pal Scheme'

Today, Wednesday 10 June 2020, residents at Tonbridge House Care Home on Quarry Hill Road, received letters from students that attend The Hayesbrook School.  Students from all years have regularly been visiting the residents once a fortnight, since the school introduced a Care Programme in April 2019, to share their time doing activities such as craft, games and conversation.  The school’s idea of the ‘Pen-Pal Scheme’ was launched so students could stay in touch with the residents who have become their friends and help lift their spirits whilst they isolate due to the coronavirus.

Mrs Ruth Christmas, Associate Assistant Principal for The Hayesbrook School said: “Just because school is not happening in its usual form, our students did not want to lose touch with the friends they had made at the Tonbridge House Care Home.  For many of our young people writing a letter is not a common activity, but having launched the Pen-Pal Scheme, they have recognised that through the art of letter writing it is a brilliant way for them to remain connected and would be extremely valued by the residents.”

Letter writing has been largely replaced by technology, today we all expect to be able to communicate instantly and get a response almost straight away. The students have found by putting pen to paper they need to be more thoughtful and carful in choosing the right words, which has help to enhance their vocabulary and improve their attention to detail. 

Mrs Christmas added: The students are enjoying the Pen-Pal Scheme as I think they have discovered that the writing and receiving of letters offers an experience that modern technology cannot deliver.”

Andy Roberts, Leisure and Wellness Coordinator for Tonbridge House Care Home said "The Pen-Pal Scheme is great idea, especially at this moment in time, as families and friends of the residents are having less frequent contact with their loved ones. The letters our residents have received have brought with them a great boost or moral and lifted their spirits. There’s something very special about knowing that someone has taken the time to write a hand-written letter for you. The students are doing something very simple that is making others very happy and on behalf the residents I would like to thank them and hope there will be a time soon, when they can visit all together."

The school’s relationship with the care home successfully demonstrates the benefits of bringing generations together. The aim of the school’s ‘Care Programme’ was to create enthusiasm for social change, closing the generation gap through shared experiences and promoting understanding that can lead to respect and compassion. The students get to mix with an age group they might not normally have a chance to and the residents enjoy the opportunity to connect with bright, happy young people.