Pupils’ cards spread joy to vulnerable and lonely

COLOURFUL cards designed by East Sussex primary school children are helping to brighten the lives of thousands of vulnerable residents.

As part of an East Sussex Public Health initiative to tackle loneliness and social isolation, 5,000 cards have been sent to those who have been shielding and self-isolating during the Covid-19 pandemic via Community Hubs, foodbanks and community and volunteer groups.

Around 150 designs were submitted by pupils from 12 primary schools across the county, with winning designs chosen by councillors, chairmen, councillor leaders and community hubs for each borough and district.

Darrell Gale, director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council, said: “Around 22,000 people in East Sussex had been asked to shield, 13,000 residents are registered with the hubs for support and more than 5,000 people have been supported by the community hubs.

“We know that shielding has had a detrimental impact on the emotional and mental well-being including reports of increased loneliness and isolation.  Often it is the little things that have a big impact, so we wanted people who may be feeling particularly vulnerable at this time to know that others are thinking of them by sending them the colourful cards with messages of hope and good will.”

The chosen designs were;

  • Eastbourne Borough Council: Vari, 5, from Cavendish School
  • Lewes District Council: Poppy 6, from Peacehaven Heights School
  • Wealden District Council Truly, 7, from Stone Cross School
  • Rother District Council: Charlie, 9, from Icklesham Primary School
  • Hastings Borough Council: Anastasija, 6, from Christchurch Academy
  • East Sussex Healthcare Trust: Millie, 10, from Chyngton School, Seaford

East Sussex Healthcare Trust (ESHT) selected the card designed by 10-year-old Millie to be printed and sent to hospital volunteers during volunteer week at the beginning of June.

Vikki Carruth, ESHT Director of Nursing said: “The bright and vibrate design of the card was so uplifting and put a smile on the face of our valued ESHT volunteers. A massive thank you to all of the school children who submitted designs for the cards, and a special thank you to Millie.”

Councillor David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, who chose a winning design, said: “Well done to all the children who took part in the competition, it was a joy to look through all the beautiful, bright pictures they had created.  At this time when we particularly need to look after each other, it is heartwarming that youngsters are playing their part in the effort to beat Covid-19 and putting a smile on people’s faces.”

Councillor Johnny Denis, cabinet member for communities and customers at Lewes District Council, said: “I was impressed by all the children’s pictures and particularly liked the cheerful message of Poppy’s design. Now more than ever, it’s important to reach out to everyone in our community, especially the most vulnerable, and let them know they are cared about. These youngsters have found a delightful way of doing just that.”

Rother District Council’s leader Cllr Doug Oliver said: “The restrictions put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19 has had an impact on us all, but for those who were already feeling isolated and lonely these past months have been extremely difficult.  We are extremely proud of all the children who took the time to create artwork to brighten the lives of the vulnerable members of their community.”

Cllr Kim Forward, leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “Loneliness was an issue for some members of the community before the pandemic, and now it has become an even more significant with many people having had to stay home to stay safe. This campaign is really wonderful, and the children’s designs are beautiful.

“Small acts of kindness, such as this, go a long way for those who are struggling. If people do feel lonely or isolated then the Hastings Community Hub, run by the council and local partners, is here to help. One of the things the Hub offers is a befriending service which has already helped a lot of people during the pandemic. A friendly voice, or a colourful card, really can make all the difference.”

Cllr Pam Doodes, Chairman of Wealden District Council, said: “Congratulations to all the children who designed such brilliant pictures for this initiative. A special well done to Truly, whose picture and poem were particularly touching.

“I know these cards will bring joy to all who receive them when they are displayed on fridges and mantelpieces up and down Wealden. So much careful thought and hard work had gone into designing each and every one. Our young people should be very proud of themselves. they have played a huge part in helping to keep every corner of our communities in our thoughts during this pandemic.”

The children who designed the five chosen cards have received a laminated copy of their artwork. To celebrate the efforts of all those who took part, copies of cards not selected have been posted on community noticeboards, in GP practices, local pharmacies, in local hospitals and in and around schools.