Never lonely with letters

Cheerful letters, drawings and paintings have been making their way to elderly residents across the Macedon Ranges to help them stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic.
It is the result of a Kyneton-born pen pal project that coordinator Katy Condliffe said had a simple aim: “to bring some joy, happiness and love to our older community members”.
“The response has been incredible,” Katy said.
“People in the community are so keen to help and be connected in whatever way possible.”
So far, the project connects youths, families and individuals of all ages with residents at Bupa Aged Care Kyneton, RM Begg Kyneton and Trentham Aged Care.
“Some will simply be sending paintings and drawings created at home. Others are older and writing letters or parents may write letters to include with the drawings,” Katy said.
“There are no rules, we just want some connection, to bring a smile to the face of the residents.”
Katy is the founder of SPICE playgroups, which encourage face-to-face interaction between the elderly and youth and inspired the project.
She said while the playgroups had been put on pause, the friendships formed along the way certainly had not.
“We wanted to find a way to keep the connections that have grown alive,” Katy said.
“I had in mind that the residents in aged-care facilities were going to be more isolated and more lonely than ever. And, all of a sudden, kids and parents needed activities to be doing at home… It seemed obvious that ‘fun mail’ and stories shared between the generations was the answer.”
Katy put out a call on social media for the SPICE Pen Pal Project and was overwhelmed by the response.
“I’ve heard some kids are now getting up and writing every day, not only to their pen pal, but to others in the community and family,” Katy said.
“The written word and ‘old school’ mail are certainly in for a comeback. A bunch of the first letters have all been set so we are now waiting for response and will keep writing, drawing and creating.”
Katy and her children continue to write to her grandmother, 93, who lives in Bendigo and was her inspiration for SPICE.

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