A 16-year-old student from Putney has set up a letter writing scheme to match primary school pupils with care home residents and lift spirits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nina Andersen set up Community Senior Letters to keep care home residents connected to the outside world.

“It’s been really heartwarming,” said Nina.

Now more than 40 primary schools are involved, spanning the South West London boroughs Wandsworth, Richmond and Kingston and even going as far as Camden and Islington.

Before the pandemic Nina ran Community Senior Music where semi-professional musicians from the likes of the Royal College of Music performed concerts at local care homes.

“This project was going great for a few months, we were really starting to get more musicians to join in but unfortunately due to the covid-19 restrictions the musicians were unable to visit the care homes anymore to play the instruments and perform for the elderly residents,” said Nina.

Wandsworth Times:

“I tried to turn the project online with livestreamed musicians into care homes, but unfortunately the care homes didn’t have the right technology to watch. So I had to do a lot of brainstorming, I didn’t want the residents in the care homes to be in the dark or not have human connections for a long while. So I decided to switch to letter writing instead,” she said.

Nina says she phoned and emailed “hundreds” of care homes and schools to explain the project and get them on board.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The schools are very pleased to be involved in this project. I got an email from a parent the other day saying that her son wasn’t usually into writing, but had really got involved in this project and enjoyed writing letters to the care home.

“I’ve got a lot of emails thanking me for letting them have the opportunity to do this. It’s been really heartwarming and I just really appreciate the emails and want to expand the project even more to benefit even more people.

Wandsworth Times:

“Likewise, the carehomes really enjoy receiving these letters and some have even written back to the primary school children, when they are able to. We don’t expect them to write back, but when they do it’s really nice to see that bond and connection between two generations of people.”

Nina says that after lockdown restrictions are fully lifted she hopes to arrange meetings between children and residents so the two generations can share stories.

But for now she’s continuing with her studies as she prepares for her A-Levels next year.

“I’m managing alright,” she said.

“It depends on the week. Some are busier than others. But any spare time I try and get more care homes and schools involved and get feedback and see how everyone is doing with the project.

Wandsworth Times:

“People need to make the best out of a not so great situation. For me, this lockdown and quarantine hasn’t affected me negatively. In fact I think just by coming up with this idea, it’s been keeping me busy.

“I’m hoping the more people I can get involved, they will also feel the benefits, and it will take their mind of some of the negatives and boredom of lockdown.”

If you run a school or care home and would like to get involved, email communityseniorletters@gmail.com.