One section of the community has really suffered during the lockdown are those people living on their own and trapped within their four walls through age and vulnerability.
There have been a number of charities and groups that have tried to help – including Felixstowe Helping Hands and BASIC Life Charity, Suffolk County Council’s Home but Not Alone scheme, and Suffolk MIND.
Now Felixstowe school children will also be reaching out – with a new project designed to link every child in Fairfield and Colnies schools with a vulnerable or isolated community member by letter.
The Federation of Fairfield Infant and Colneis Junior Schools have been awarded an East Suffolk Council grant to create the Community Connections project so that every child can correspond with a Felixstowe resident who may be feeling isolated due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Linking with Felixstowe Helping Hands, established at the beginning of the first lockdown by Councillor Darren Aitchison, all 653 pupils will undertake to either write a letter, or for those younger children who are still learning to write, draw a picture, in the hopes that they can bring a smile to someone’s day.
Commenting about the project, Executive Headteacher Mr Mark Girling said ‘We are so pleased to have been awarded the grant which will enable us to link with those in our local community who have been isolated over the past year. One of our school core values is compassion, so by participating in the Community Connections project we are able to teach the children how compassion for others can be displayed in a practical way.
We hope that the connections we make with the wider community will be of benefit to both the recipients of the letters and to our pupils, and we are looking forward to nurturing the links that we make.’
Speaking on behalf of Felixstowe Helping Hands, Mr Darren Aitchison commented ‘Felixstowe Helping Hands are really excited about the Community Connections project, we feel that receiving a letter or picture from one of the pupils will be a real boost for the isolated and lonely people of Felixstowe and surrounding villages. The inter-generational aspect of the project is really important, we have already had some very touching stories from the Social Befriending service we provide and we expect that this will provide even more. We have a great community in Felixstowe and projects like this can only improve this further. I would like to thank Fairfield and Colneis for all the hard work they have put in to bringing this project to fruition.’
The children will write their first letters in time for the Easter break and will plan to write again during the summer term.