Crouched Friars ‘gives some love and receives some love’ by joining penpal scheme

Here at Crouched Friars, we have been keeping our residents connected with young people during the coronavirus pandemic by joining a charity’s letter-writing scheme.

We joined the YOPEY penpal scheme with the aim of helping its residents feel connected at a time when social isolation is likely to increase.

YOPEY, the Young People of the Year charity, traditionally runs befriending schemes where young people visit care homes. However, they had to put these on hold during the coronavirus crisis.

Despite their visits stopping during lockdown, the charity and its young volunteers wanted to continue to support the elderly care home residents at a time when they needed it the most, so decided to start a letter-writing scheme.

We are now on our second pack of letters. The feedback from our residents has been extremely positive, with one resident commenting: “This has been a lovely distraction to hear from our younger generation, and I’ve really enjoyed hearing about the animals, especially the cat.”

A beacon of hope

Paulina Eagle, home manager at Crouched Friars, has described the befriending scheme as “an opportunity to give some love and receive some love.”

She commented: “With everything else that’s going on in the world currently, the scheme has been a beacon of hope for our residents during lockdown.

“Creating and maintaining social connections with our younger generation is key to supporting the mental wellbeing of our residents and in turn helps them to age well. With our weekly nursery visits on hold, we wanted to keep our residents connected with young people, as we see the many benefits that it brings to them.”

All letters are emailed in packs to our residents. These are illustrated with photos of the young people, their hobbies and their artwork.

Once one pack has been read by residents, and a few of the letter writers have received replies from residents wishing to respond, we can then request another pack.

YOPEY’s founder Tony Gearing MBE commented: “Before the pandemic, we had about 150 teenagers visiting a dozen care homes. During lockdown, we have been able to recruit hundreds of more young people, aged from 4 to 26, and sent out thousands of letters to hundreds of care homes.

“When regulations allow volunteers to visit care homes again, we hope homes like Crouched Friars will consider joining our befriending scheme.”

Based in Essex, Crouched Friars Residential Home is a specialist home with a team of dedicated care staff who provide around the clock dementia and residential care for residents.

If you’re interested in hearing more about our home, our team would be happy to talk to you. Contact us on 01206 572647 or email

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