A heart-warming winter campaign encouraging people to send Christmas cards to residents in local care homes launched on Wednesday 1 December.
Cards for Kindness, now in its fourth year, aims to tackle loneliness and isolation in care homes across Lancashire and South Cumbria.
The theme for this year’s scheme is “What warms your heart this winter?” and people are being asked to include examples of what makes them happy alongside their festive greetings.
This could be anything from pulling on a favourite Christmas jumper or eating a mince pie, to watching your favourite movie or snuggling up with the dog on the sofa on a rainy winter afternoon.
The idea is that opening the Christmas card helps to start conversations and bring back happy memories. Research shows that these conversations can have many benefits and reduce loneliness, particularly for people living with dementia.
There are more than 13,600 people in care homes across Lancashire and South Cumbria, and reducing loneliness is a crucial part of improving their physical and mental wellbeing.
All the information people need to get involved, including contact details for care homes, a way to send an e-card and ideas for messages, is available on the Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership website www.healthierlsc.co.uk/CardsForKindness.
County Councillor Graham Gooch, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “This Christmas, Cards for Kindness is set to be bigger than ever.
“Our theme is ‘What Warms Your Heart in Winter’, so we’re asking people to include a few words about something that makes them feel happy at a time of year which can be very lonely for the people living in one of the 573 care homes across the Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and South Cumbria region.
“Taking part is easy, just write your message addressed to care home residents and pop it in the post.
“Care home staff do a tremendous job organising activities to ensure residents who live there can socialise and connect to each other. However, loneliness is still a huge issue for people living in our care homes, many of whom don’t have regular visits from friends, family and loved ones.
“Figures show that living in isolation can have a similar effect on our health than smoking 15 cigarettes per day, so campaigns like this are absolutely crucial.
“Schools, community, faith and voluntary groups and people who visit libraries are getting involved this year. They’re making superb cards and gifts to help get heart-warming messages to even more people. We’re also making it easier for home library service users to take part this year.
“We’d encourage everyone to help us warm someone’s heart by sending a card to their local care home. Just one extra card will only take a couple of minutes to write, but it’ll make all the difference to someone in a care home this Christmas.”
Talib Yaseen, Executive Director of Transformation from Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership, said: “Cards for Kindness is a wonderful way to spread a little Christmas spirit by sending a festive greetings card to people living in our local care homes. The impact of the pandemic and the isolation that many residents, staff and families endured makes the Cards for Kindness campaign even more important this year and I hope lots of people across our communities will take part in this simple but important activity.
“Cards for Kindness is a joint project, with local authorities, the NHS, education and voluntary groups, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) organisations working together to help reduce loneliness of care home residents. It will also bring some cheer to staff working in the care sector to know others are thinking of the residents they support.
“We know that Cards for Kindness has made a big impact in previous years with residents and staff telling us how much joy the cards have brought and how they have sparked nostalgic conversations about Christmases gone by.”
Almost 200 care homes have signed up to Cards for Kindness so far this year. Addresses of all the care homes involved and instructions on how to take part are available at: www.healthierlsc.co.uk/CardsForKindness.
Those sending Christmas cards are encouraged to share their experience on social media using #CardsForKindness.