A FOSTER a grandparent scheme is pairing Teesside nursery children with elderly care home residents has been hailed a “huge success”.
Despite an age gap of over 90 years between some, the adoptee grandparents have been thrilled to receive letters from the children, who have been telling them about their likes and dislikes, what they do at nursery, and asking questions.
Irene Fleming, 96, was “fostered” by three-year-old Jack, who wrote to her about his love of dancing and hate of spiders.
Jack said: “One of my favourite things to do at nursery is drawing. I also love to dance around the room singing the greatest showman. Have you seen the movie?
“I don’t like spiders either. I think they are scary and I run away from them very very fast. I always like to eat my dinner up so I grow big and strong like my Daddy.”
Irene, who has three children of her own but no grandchildren, wrote back: “Thank you for the letter and pictures. They are very good. You are very talented for three-years-old. You have made me smile. I like superheroes but I don’t like spiders.
“If you eat your greens you will grow nice and tall but maybe not as tall as a giraffe. I like to look after the hens here at Mandale House. I have added some pictures. I like the seaside as I like swimming. Do you like swimming?”
Asked about how she feels to be “fostered” by Jack, Irene said: “I feel so special that the children have taken the time to write to me. It’s so kind of them.”
Four-year-old Jacob was paired with Brenda Turner, 90, who has three children and lots of grandchildren of her own. She wrote asking about the youngster’s favourite food and superheroes.
She said: “I am writing this from Mandale House. We are currently waiting for our lunch. What do you like for your lunch?
“I have coloured you a picture. I hope you like it. And I have added some more pictures. Who is your favourite superhero?
“Love and hugs from your new friend, Brenda.”
Jacob replied: “My favourite thing to have for my dinner is cheese sandwiches. Cheese sandwiches are so yummy! What did you have for your dinner? What is your favourite dinner?
“My favourite superhero is batman. I like how he can fly everywhere. I have coloured a picture of batman for you to keep.”
Brenda added: “They are so clever to send us their letters. They bring tears to my eyes and fill me with laughter at the same time. Jacob is so lovely.”
William “Billy” James, 85, does not have any family of his own and was delighted to be paired with four-year-old Harrison. He has received letters, pictures, and football memorabilia including magazines and programmes, which he has enjoyed reading.
The residents and children have continued exchanging letters and cards for Valentine’s Day and Easter. They also surprised Brenda on her 90th birthday with special birthday cards.
Sarah Robinson, activities coordinator at Mandale House Care Home, said: “The foster a grandparent scheme all started with a profile being given to the nursery of five residents.
“Each child then picked the grandparent they wanted to foster. They then wrote to them and drew self-portraits. These were given to the residents who wrote letters of their own.
“The scheme has been a huge success, with both the residents and the children getting so much from it. The residents have loved receiving the letters from the youngsters and have expressed how nice it is to be in their thoughts.
“We are hoping they will all be able to meet in person when it is safe to do so. It will be such a thrill for everyone to see each other after exchanging letters for several months.”