Going back to a time before social media


Archie Stewart writing his card.



THERE has been a fantastic reaction to a new pen pal initiative that’s pairing residents in nursing homes with young letter writers.

Last week, residents at Brentwood Manor Private Nursing Home in Convoy were delighted to receive Halloween cards from Transition Year students at the nearby Royal and Prior Comprehensive School in Raphoe.

“There was more than one or two tears shed when the post arrived that first morning. It’s a lovely initiative,” John Kelly, Director of Nursing, said.

“Pen pals were very popular before social media and that idea is now being resurrected. It doesn’t involve any exchange of data as such and the identity of both the residents and students remains protected at all times.

“Letters come to individual residents and those who need assistance to reply are given help and they all write back. It’s become very much part and parcel of their day. It’s a very nice gesture and gives them something to look forward to during difficult times.

“More importantly, it highlights to young people that there are adults in nursing homes and that they are no longer getting the same level of visitation as they did in the past. It’s nice that they know people are thinking about them.” he said.

“We have two school partners. It started with Halloween cards and there’s a huge advantage with the An Post initiative in that they can post the cards for free. It really brightens up the day and it’s lovely to see the residents sitting there and taking their time to read through the cards. You can really see the joy on their faces.


“People of my vintage would be very familiar with the system of pen pals. It’s a new phenomenon to kids on social media but it’s nice,” Mr Kelly added.

In recent days, cards have been sent back to the children from the residents with little messages on them wishing the children well.

Ms Orlaith Trearty is a Geography teacher at the Royal and Prior Comprehensive School in Raphoe. She said it was great to see the students reaching out to a different generation.

“It’s a win, win and the feedback has been great from the students,” Ms Trearty said.

Jodie Pearson a Transition Year student loved taking part in this pen pal project.

“It was nice to be able to bring a smile to someone of the older generation who will not have seen any family for quite sometime now”.

Millie Mc Arthur said “ This was great as I was paired with someone who enjoyed farming just like I do. I found it easy and enjoyable to write to someone when we share things in common”.

A total of 53 Halloween letters were sent to the nursing home and it is hoped that the students will get the opportunity to visit the home and meet their new pen pals face to face in the new year.




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