Latymer student earned British Empire Medal for setting up letter-writing scheme to reduce loneliness amongst old people
Sixth Form student Nina set up Community Senior Letters, a non-profit community project, that matches students in schools with residents in care homes. Students then write letters, providing the elderly with a form of human connection that helps to ease feelings of isolation and loneliness which had been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Nina established the project just after the first lockdown started, when she realised that she’d no longer be able to continue running Community Senior Music, her initiative to take musical entertainment into care homes. Nina felt that letters could really help to lift spirits and put a smile on the residents’ faces, while the students involved develop valuable skills – not just writing but also kindness and empathy. The project enables intergenerational connections to be made and friendships to be formed, building a sense of community and benefiting society as a whole.
Over 250 care homes and more than 250 schools, both in the UK and internationally, are involved, writing hundreds of thousands of letters. There have been letters sent from all corners of the globe – North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia – with coverage in various media outlets such as CBBC Newsround, The Daily Telegraph and Independent, as well as recognition for Nina including The Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award, Children and Young People Now: Children’s Achievement Award and Hammersmith & Fulham Covid-19 Champion Award. The BBC came to film with Nina at school for a show called ‘The Extraordinary Power of Kindness’.
Nina and her initiative also feature in ‘One Hundred Reasons to Hope’, the book that Captain Sir Tom Moore was working on before he died and Nina is now linking up with The Captain Tom Foundation, as they share a similar mission – reducing loneliness and bridging the gap between young and old people.
Nina was recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List 2022, and in the Spring collected her British Empire Medal (BEM) at a ceremony at the Tower of London.