Lancaster charity's new project seeks to connect young and elderly in exchange of letters

Escape2Make (E2M) is launching a pen pal project to help combat loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 12:30 pm
Kyle McKenzie, left, who is spearheading this project, with Julianna Loke and Lucy Reynolds from E2M.

The charity is setting up the socially distanced project in an effort to maintain positive wellbeing among two groups who need it the most in this unprecedented time: the young and the elderly.

The project's producer, Kyle McKenzie, from Escape2Make (E2M), said: "Our newest project will see a group of young and elderly people connect over ten weeks in an exchange of letters.

"Bringing communication back to its roots - we aim to provide those involved with a fresh look into the lives of someone who lives differently to the way they do, as well as establish a feeling of togetherness and community during lockdown.

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The charity aims to inspire and tackle mental health issues in young people in the Lancaster district.

"Escape2Make has always practiced bringing young people away from screens and helping them realise the importance of building relationships and learning practical skills through face-to-face contact.

"Unfortunately, due to regulations put in place as a result of the COVID- 19 pandemic, our mission statement has become harder to achieve.

"However, through this project we have found a way to encourage being part of a community without the reliance on technology we have all built up."

On June 15, the government's "Loneliness Minister" has urged that people continue to write letter and cards to those still isolating, as a study recorded by Royal Mail shows that nearly three-quarters of people (74%) feel that writing letters has a positive effect on mental health.

Young people took part in pilot projects last year.

Kyle added: "Our mission at Escape2Make has always been to bring young people (aged 11-18) closer to their community - and provide them with the skills to make things, make friends and make a difference.

"However, we have also identified that one of the groups that will suffer the most due to lockdown are the elderly.

"With restrictions in place from being visited by family members and loved ones, we want to do whatever we can to prevent loneliness and a decline in mental health conditions.

"Bringing these groups together is an intuitive way for them to feel connected in a time where they may be feeling more alone than ever."

The projects included film-making, creative arts, and a whole host of other subjects.

Do you know anyone who may benefit from taking part in this project? If you’re over 70, or aged 11-18, and are interested in taking part, Escape2Make would love to hear from you!

You can contact the project’s producer to get involved at [email protected] or call 07487 851445.

Escape2Make was launched in December 2019.

It is the brainchild of Lancaster mum Jenny Natusch, with a mission to tackle and prevent mental health issues in teenagers caused by boredom and increasing isolation, and aggravated by social media.