Primary schools around Salford have joined a national scheme to combat social isolation by writing personalised messages for care home residents in the lead up to Christmas.
It has been a difficult year for most care home residents with stress over visiting restrictions, coronavirus fears and ever-changing lockdown regulations.
The campaign aims to reconnect residents with their community by providing them with a Christmas message from a child in a local primary school.
The campaign was inspired after Gee Cross Holy Trinity School in Hyde, who began sending out hearts to their local care home.
Katie Harrison, founder of Picture News, explained: “We were inspired to roll out the HeartsForHomes campaign to the 8,000 schools we work with – so that every child and resident can benefit from giving or receiving a heart this Christmas.”
The children write their Christmas message to a care home resident on a heart.
The hearts are then placed in quarantine for three days before a socially distanced drop-off is arranged at their local care home.
Campaign organisers, Picture News, provide weekly assembly resources to more than 3,000 schools around the UK, containing visual aids and thought-provoking questions on current news stories.
“Our Picture news Assembly resource packs always get children talking, but we didn’t expect such a huge reaction to the isolation care home residents were facing during Covid-19,” said Katie.
She added: “Children across the UK showed enormous empathy and love and were determined to help.”
The campaign ran from the beginning of the month until December 11, and has since received positive feedback from many Salford care homes:
Wentworth House stated that the personalised messages brightened up the residents’ day and thanked St Paul’s CofE Primary School for their “lovely messages”.
According to Age UK, more than 2 million people over the age of 75 in the UK live alone, and more than a million elderly people say they go over a month without social contact.
Those who do not feel sufficiently connected to others and are deprived of social contact are more likely to have weaker immune systems and catch colds, develop dementia, develop cardiovascular disease and live shorter lives.
In fact, those experiencing social isolation and loneliness are believed to be at a much higher risk of developing depression and anxiety, as many aspects of social interaction release chemicals in the brain that heighten our sense of wellbeing.
The idea of Hearts For Homes from primary schools across England will hopefully go at least a little way to brightening many care home resident’s days.
To find out more about the Hearts For Homes scheme and the work of Picture News, click here.