Pen pal plan delivers joy to all ages during Covid

February 26th, 2021 10:10 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Tara Thornton has started a pen pal scheme for residents in nursing homes and says she is overwhelmed by the response so far, with over 1,000 people having already signed up. Full story, page 3. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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AN Innishannon woman behind a Cork pen pal scheme for residents in nursing homes said she is overwhelmed with the response so far, with over 1,000 people having already signed up to the service.

Tara Thornton and her friend Fiona Murray were inspired to set up a local pen pal scheme following the launch of a national one late last year.

Tara said they only expected about 100 people to sign up at best when they launched an Instagram page two weeks ago so the take up has certainly surprised them.

‘We have over 1,000 sign ups already and we’re just waiting for some other nursing homes to confirm that they will take part in the scheme so we can pair our signs ups with residents,’ said Tara

‘It’s a real mix of people who are signing up with a lot of them in the 25 to 34 age group and most are women. There are also a lot of people who work as home care assistants and are actually on the front line.

‘People are coming back to me saying they have more time on their hands to do something like this. They seem to be a lot more aware of the situation for people in nursing homes and they just want to do something nice during this lockdown.’

Tara is encouraging the volunteers to keep the pen pal writing going as long as they can.

‘There a good few people who hadn’t written a letter in years and were worried about how it would turn out so it’s great that they are getting back into the habit.’

With over half the nursing homes in the county contacted it’s now just a matter of co-ordinating the participating residents with the volunteers.

Penpal Cork  is open to anyone who is living alone or who would like to receive letters.

For more information or to sign up email [email protected] or see their Instagram page @penpalcork

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