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Penpal appeal by Fenland care home residents goes global



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Letters from across the world have flooded into a Fenland care home following an appeal for penpals.

Last week the Citizen highlighted the appeal by residents living at Hickathrift House in Marshland St James after they posted on Facebook.

As result of the social media appeal, and subsequent publicising by the Citizen, the project has become a global phenomenon with over half a million views and thousands of shares on Facebook, and letters pouring in from all over the world.

Audrey is now looking for a penpal of her own. (55251589)
Audrey is now looking for a penpal of her own. (55251589)

The project was originally set up last year with the aim of connecting residents with the children from local Marshland St James Primary School, to share their stories past and present and make new friends spanning the ages through the inter-generational scheme.

The residents and children loved writing and receiving letters and sharing their news so much that Hickathrift House extended the pen pal project to the wider community with huge success.

The idea is that people write a letter or send an email to Hickathrift House with details of their hobbies and interests and the home matches each person to one of their residents who writes back with their news.

Letters from across the world have arrived at the Marshland St James care home. (55251595)
Letters from across the world have arrived at the Marshland St James care home. (55251595)

Since the scheme was broadened to the wider community, the home has received letters from all over the world including America, Australia, New Zealand, India, Malta, Malaysia and South Africa. People are not only writing letters, but gifting donations such as their books, crafts, artwork and photographs.

Kat Colangelo, Activities Coordinator at Hickathrift House, said: “Our residents absolutely love receiving letters and news from all sorts of different people, they really look forward to getting letters and emails. They have all enjoyed sharing their stories with first the young pupils and then the wider community. There are so many incredible tales and they love hearing about adventures from all over the world. We never imagined the idea would be so popular when we first started writing letters last summer! This kindness and generosity has filled the home with joy.”

Penpals have also sent in gifts to the residents, who have been ovewhelmed by the response. (55251598)
Penpals have also sent in gifts to the residents, who have been ovewhelmed by the response. (55251598)

Hickathrift House care home is run by Barchester Healthcare, one of the UK’s largest care providers, which is committed to delivering personalised care across its care homes and hospitals. Hickathrift House provides residential care and dementia care for 53 residents from respite care to long term stays.

Residents prepare to start their own letter writing in reply to those they have received. (55251592)
Residents prepare to start their own letter writing in reply to those they have received. (55251592)


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