Sharing stories and building friendships

Schools and care homes in Calderdale have joined together to enable pupils and residents to share their experiences of life in lockdown, as part of an innovative pen pal programme.

Pupils at Todmorden C of E School have been writing to residents at the nearby Pennine Lodge care home sharing news about their hobbies, things they’ve been doing while they’ve been off school, and subjects like their favourite holidays and recipes.

The young people have sent photos and written stories for residents to read. They’ve also been encouraged to ask lots of questions, for example, what their pen pal likes to do, where they’ve visited or what job they did when they were younger.

Residents have really enjoyed receiving the letters and writing their own replies. Friendships have already been formed, with letters and photos going back and forth.

Although initially starting with just one family looking to bring cheer to the home at this difficult time, the school quickly picked up the idea and the lots of pupils have joined in with the programme. Other care homes have already got involved too, including Asquith Hall, also in Todmorden.

Healthy Futures Calderdale, a public health partnership which works across Calderdale to promote health and wellbeing, is now looking to further expand the scheme to schools and care homes across the borough.

Any schools or older people’s settings which are interesting in getting involved are encouraged to email

The Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift, said:

“As part of the Healthy Futures Calderdale partnership project, we’re interested in recognising and promoting projects that support emotional wellbeing and resilience.

“This is a wonderful example of the many mutual benefits that can be experienced by bringing younger and older generations together. It’s heart-warming to see the enjoyment that these letters have brought to both young and old.

“In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever that we ensure that we support those who may be lonely or feel socially isolated. This pen pal programme is leading the way and showing us that even small gestures of contact can mean the world.”

Alice Leadbitter, Head teacher at Todmorden C of E School, said:

“When Calderdale Healthy Futures asked us to pilot this scheme we were delighted. The children were requested to write or send art work to residents at Pennine Lodge Care Home. The children have got involved and have enjoyed the responses they have received. It has not only supported our children’s home learning but also encouraged our school values of love and friendship. It is so important that our children have an understanding of the wider community so we can support them to become fantastic members of Todmorden as they grow.”

Managing Director at Towerview Care, Shirley Rowe, said:

“Towerview Care is delighted to be part of such an excellent community-based scheme.  The children’s stories and artwork have brought joy, happiness and many smiles to the ladies and gentlemen living at Pennine Lodge. In a world of technology, it’s fantastic to see everyone embracing the art of letter writing and building intergenerational friendships.” 



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