A PROJECT to combat loneliness has seen preschool children and elderly care home residents more than 250 miles apart exchanging handprints.
The intergenerational scheme is organised by The Together Project, which creates experiences to bring together different age groups to reduce loneliness and improve wellbeing.
Their “Hand in Hand Together” project has seen residents living at Hazelgrove Court Care Home in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, in North Yorkshire, exchanging handprints with children from Penrhyn Pre School, in Walthamstow, London.
The residents and children are encouraged to decorate their handprints and fill out a short questionnaire, introducing themselves to each other.
The pre school children, aged between 2 and 3, were asked their favourite song, to which they replied: “We love lots of songs”.
Under the section “Here’s a little bit about me”, they wrote: “We are so lucky to go to a lovely nursery when our mummies and daddies are at work. We have a lovely big garden space – we play out whatever the weather. We love to sing, bake, play in the sand and the mud kitchen. Best of all, we have a new puppy cockerpoo called Sunny!”
The care home residents have been responding to the children with their own handprints and letters.
Dot Paling, 74, decorated her handprint with the alphabet. She said: “It will help the children learn.”
Jean Caley, 74, turned her handprint into a face. She said: “I hope it makes the children laugh.”
After receiving a letter from one of the children, Susan Turner, 94, said: “It was amazing that one of the children’s favourite songs at three-years-of-age is Baa Baa Black Sheep. That was my favourite at school too.”
In a letter back to the children, Joyce Baxtrum, 89, wrote: “I am making a lockdown scarf and it will be 40ft when it is finished.”
Alexa Sutheran, from The Together Project, said: “I was so inspired by Joyce, from Hazelgrove Court Care Home, and her 40ft scarf that I finished my cross stitch that I started during lockdown.”
Sharon Lewis, activities coordinator at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, said: “We signed up through the National Activity Providers Association (NAPA) to do the Hand in Hand Together project.
“The residents were delighted to do their handprints for the children and wanted to make them fun for the children to receive. They spent a lot of time choosing how they would decorate the hands.
“The idea is every resident will connect with a different child and we’re hoping to connect all of our residents.”