CHILDREN at nine Hampshire schools are helping isolated members of the community cope with the loneliness caused by coronavirus restrictions.

Pupils in the Waterside area are bridging the generation gap by writing to pensioners separated from friends and family by the second lockdown.

Children are being encouraged to think about how different people are affected by having to cut themselves off from the wider community.

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The project has been organised by Waterside Primary Care Network (WPCN), which comprises five GP practices in the Hythe, Blackfield and Marchwood areas.

Pupils at infant and junior schools have been busy drawing pictures, writing letters and making cards.

Heidi Rehman, health and wellbeing coach at WPCN, said: "We're so lucky to be living in a digital age which helps so many feel closer to their loved ones.

"However, for many people access to the Internet isn’t always that simple.

"We wanted to bring a smile to residents’ faces and receiving something so personal, positive and uplifting seemed a lovely way to bring different ages together.

"We're acutely aware that loneliness and isolation has a detrimental effect on both our physical and mental health and this second lockdown will once again have led to many members of our community feeling cut off from friends and families.”

The letters and drawings are being delivered next week to care home residents, people living in sheltered housing, and other members of the community.

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Fleur Fisher, deputy head teacher at Marchwood Infant School, said: “The children love being a part of this project. It's important they feel a sense of community and shared understanding of the different challenges we all face.

"Many of our pupils have grandparents they're unable to see at the moment and this seemed a way of making connections and building bridges between generations."

Nicola Ray is manager of Oaklands Rest Home in Veals Lane, Marchwood.

She said: "We’ve always felt a real connection between the different generations. Prior to the pandemic our residents would look forward to their art sessions with a local nursery and engaging with the children.

"The age gaps would just melt away and it was wonderful to watch.

"Unfortunately we have been unable to continue our visits, so being involved in such a lovely project with Marchwood Infant School has really touched our hearts."