Caring Highcrest students see messages of support to elderly shown on ITV news
Kind-hearted students at The Highcrest Academy sent poems, pictures and letters to elderly residents of a care home to support them during the Coronavirus crisis. And the pupils were then stunned to see their messages featured on the ITV news as part of a report on the response to the home’s appeal for people to get in touch.
The Swarthmore Care Home in Gerrards Cross was inundated with letters of support after asking the public on Facebook to send messages to residents who are no longer able to receive visitors due to social distancing measures. The ITV report, televised in March, told how the home had received letters and cards from around the world. Around a dozen of these came from The Highcrest Academy in High Wycombe where Sue Charlesworth, Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, passed the appeal on to students in years 7 and 8. “Many of the students, as you can imagine, have been asking questions about COVID-19 and isolating. We have had many discussions on what makes people vulnerable and being aware of the need to use preventative measures,” she said.
Mrs Charlesworth follows Swarthmore on Facebook because the home cared for her grandmother in her final years. She said: “After a brief discussion, students were invited to design either a poster, letter or poem to bring a little cheer to these residents. They were keen to do it. The students designed their work independently and it reflects their understanding and thoughts on the current situation. They were excited at the prospect of their work being received and bringing joy, plus there was also the potential to receive letters back.
“In total about 12 messages were sent from our students and amazingly many of these featured on the news segment with ITV. Students were thrilled to see the impact of their work and the joy on the faces of the residents.” During the ITV piece, residents – who are aged from 76 to 101 - told how pleased they were to receive the messages. “I’m absolutely amazed that people have taken trouble to reply, to react and to bother to write a letter like this,” said one woman. Another said: “It makes me feel that somebody cares, that’s the important thing, I think we need to think that somebody cares.”
Mrs Charlesworth from Highcrest added: “Students at The Highcrest Academy are all naturally caring. They have a natural curiosity about the world around them and so this was a task they could easily relate to. They have grandparents etc who are also having to distance themselves. Their messages were mostly about keep smiling and remaining positive, an outlook that we all need to adopt and comes naturally to them. These students are a pleasure to teach.”
Claire Allsopp, Manager of the care home, said staff and residents were overwhelmed with joy and gratitude when the messages from Highcrest arrived. She said: "We were bowled over when we opened the envelopes. What was lovely was that young kids think about other people, and that these young people thought about drawing pictures and sending their love in the post. It's making such a difference." The home was so touched by Highcrest's gesture that it says it will invite the children to visit the residents after the Coronavirus crisis is over.