A HEARTFELT initiative, which brings vulnerable residents together with the power of writing, has seen them exchange hundreds of letters since the start of the pandemic.

Tendring Pen Pals was launched by Tendring Eldercare in Clacton to help elderly members of the public who are shielding or self-isolating.

The scheme encourages everyone to get back to basics, put pen to paper and write a letter to someone who hasn’t seen or talked to their loved ones in a long time.

More than 600 letters have been exchanged so far, with some of them being posted from all corners of the district, country and the world, including Switzerland, Australia, Austria and even Canada.

Students from Rolph CofE Primary, Harwich Community Primary and Great Clacton Church of England Junior have also joined the initiative by making more than 300 postcards for vulnerable members of the community.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Design a postcard was created in partnership with Home Instead to encourage primary students to make postcardsDesign a postcard was created in partnership with Home Instead to encourage primary students to make postcards

Edward Bell, 29, of Brightlingsea, who is chairman and founder of Tendring Eldercare said: “Some of the letters we receive are amazing.

“The fact someone has taken their time to write their message is something very personal.

“It cheers people up it. It brings them excitement, occupies their time and gives them something to look forward to.”

To find a pen pal, all you have to do is write the gender or age group your letter is aimed and add Tendring Eldercare’s address.

The envelope is then matched by the charity with an isolated member of the community.

Pauline Greenhalgh , 89, of Holland-on-sea, was one of the residents who benefited from the scheme.

Going back in time, she remembers writing to her Australian pen pal was the ray of sunshine she needed to cope with lockdown.

She said: “I didn’t see my daughters for five or six months.

“It will be three years in January since I lost my husband so lockdown was quiet soon after that.

“I was missing him but at least I had my clubs to go to. But when they closed I couldn’t even see my friends.”

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Edward Bell,29, chairman of Tendring Eldercare with Pauline Greenhalgh ,89, Holland-on-seaEdward Bell,29, chairman of Tendring Eldercare with Pauline Greenhalgh ,89, Holland-on-sea

Ronald Cant, 85, of Holland-on-sea, is another resident who had letters coming in all the way from Switzerland.

He said: “Receiving a letter is really nice because you can read it over again a couple of times.

“There are people out there younger than me and they have nobody. Getting a letter must really cheer them up.”

Mr Bell is now hoping to expand the project by encouraging schools across Tendring to become pen pals.

If you want to write to a vulnerable resident, send a letter to Edward Bell, Tendring Eldercare, 7 Kings Road, Clacton-On-Sea CO15 1BG.

Visit tendringeldercare.co.uk