Residents at Hazelmere House Bupa Care Home in Wilmslow have been enjoying letter correspondence with Year 6 students at St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School.
The letter exchange has seen the residents share memories of their experiences of World War II with the students, including being part of the mass evacuation programme, living through the Blitz and food rationing.
The pupils are currently studying World War II at school, making the exercise a brilliant opportunity for the St Benedict’s students to learn about the war in an interactive way through the first-hand accounts of Hazelmere House residents.
In turn, the residents have received letters back from the children at the school.
Resident, Jackie shared in her letter how her mother, as part of the Women’s Voluntary Service, housed lodgers throughout the war, helping to accommodate those made homeless by bombings.
One student, Hope, replied to Jackie, saying: “I loved your story and there are so many different things you told me about women which told me ladies and girls never stopped being greater than great!”
On food rationing, Hope wrote: “Another thing I can’t believe is that you only got 1/3 pint of milk. That’s not even enough to make my chocolate milk!”
Another pupil, Emily, wrote to resident, Iris, saying: “This year our world has had to come together, just like during war times, helping to win the war against COVID-19.
“Knowing that I’m around the same age as you were during World War II makes me realise just how difficult such a time must have been.”
Pupil, Carrie, was struck by the similarities between the pandemic and the war too, writing: “I was surprised about how you had to use gas masks. In 2021, we have had to carry and wear face masks.
“One of the parts of your story that really engaged me, was how the NHS was only founded in 1948 – I thought the NHS had been around forever!”
The care home residents greatly enjoyed the correspondence, with another resident, Pauline, adding: “Reading the letters from the students at St Benedict’s really made my day!
“I loved sharing my stories and reminiscing about old times but enjoyed even more hearing from the students and looking at their drawings.”
The pen pal scheme was inspired by Hazelmere House activities coordinator, Jack Busby, after he saw a Facebook post about a successful letter writing scheme in the US between care home residents and local children.
As a result, he suggested the idea to the residents, who enthusiastically supported the idea – eager to share their life experiences and build cross-generational friendships.
“The pen pal programme has been a huge success here at Hazelmere House and the residents are now looking forward to sharing more letters with the children – whether it be on topics that tie in with the curriculum or just as an opportunity to share some advice,” said Jack.
“We want to say a big thank you to St Benedicts’ Year 6 Teacher, Miss Broderick for helping us facilitate the pen pal programme.
“We are proud to offer activities for our residents that go above and beyond what you might expect from a care home, as we believe activities such as this have the capacity to really improve the wellbeing and happiness of our residents.
“Building relationships within our local community is a true pleasure for all of us at Hazelmere House.”