Youngsters on the Isle of Wight have been supporting the elderly through the lockdown by getting creative and staying in touch – the old fashioned way.

Students from three Island primary schools have been making cards, writing letters and creating paintings for elderly care home residents.

Before the lockdown, some of the youngsters spent their Friday mornings lessons alongside residents from three Isle of Wight care homes.

St Blasius Academy, Shanklin, Lanesend Primary School, Cowes and St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School, Newport, are all involved in the scheme, which has adapted to the current restrictions.

The ‘School Ties’ project is funded by the National Lottery and delivered by Island charity, Independent Arts.

Project delivery lead Jo Rigby said:

“The mutual support between the children and residents as they worked and learned together through song and craft, stories and gardening was really moving with some great and lasting friendships made between the homes and the schools.

“When the pandemic really began to bite, we knew how lonely residents would be without visits from their friends and families and we were so pleased when the schools were keen to help. We achieved one of the key aims of our lottery funding which is to strengthen communities”

In light of the lockdown, the charity and children adapted by contacting the elderly in different ways including audio messaging Christmas carols, becoming a pen pal and exchanging artwork.

One of the care homes, Brighstone Grange, said:

“Thank you so much for the exhibition board, the children’s contributions are so lovely and our residents have really appreciated the artwork and the letters.”

Recently, the pupils and residents worked on creating poems themed around a collection of photographs from the Museums Heritage Service archive taken in the 1800s by Sandown photographer James Dore.

 Poems were then shared and exchanged between the two groups. The latest caper the charity has come up with is messenger Pigeon Post.

Jo Rigby added:

“We wanted to try to come up with fun ways for children and residents to connect and thought this a fantastic way to teach children a little about the incredible work the messenger pigeons carried out during both wars often flying long distances injured and wounded from enemy fire. We thought their courage and resilience might inspire us all. It’s also a great way for residents and children to have a little bit of light- hearted fun witing telegrams and messages to one another. I’m now busy making felt post bags and some friendly pigeon graphics to carry our post to and fro with all the correct quarantining guidelines in place of course to keep everybody safe”

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