Pen-demic Pals write through the loneliness of COVID-19

Date published: 15 April 2020

Advocacy Focus, which has a two-year contract with Rochdale Council to provide free and independent children’s advocacy, has launched a new pen pal service, ‘Pen-demic Pals’, to reach out to people during the period of isolation brought on by COVID-19.

The Lancashire-based charity has been delivering a successful befriending service to people in East Lancashire for almost a year and has recently extended this to help people facing social isolation, loneliness or who may be feeling scared about current world events.

As part of the project, everyone coming through its befriending service, will be given a letter or card to show them they are not alone and that there is someone there, reaching out and making a positive connection with them. Looked after children and young people going through child protection processes will also receive letters of support and encouragement during this difficult time.

The charity is also asking for people to join the project and become Pen-demic Pals, creating new connections across the community at a time when it is needed most.

Justine Hodgkinson, CEO of Advocacy Focus, said: “We hope that our new project, which is a direct response to the impact of Covid-19, will be beneficial to both sender and receiver. Letters connect people and personal, handwritten notes can be much more powerful than something shared online.

“For looked after children using our service, this may be the first time many of them have received their own letter through the post. This project is all about reaching out and making connections. It shows people that they are not alone and we are still there for them.” 

The charity, which supports people in Lancashire with health and social care needs, is also seeking funds to buy a small gift for young people using the service to enjoy during this period of social isolation.

Justine added: “It’s not just young people who will receive a letter. We want people of all ages to get involved in this project and for friends to be made across the North West.

“It is a very anxious and scary time, and receiving a letter from a new pen-pal can help resolve feelings of isolation and loneliness.”

Budding writers who want to extend the hand of friendship and volunteer to support this project should contact Advocacy Focus’ Volunteer Manager at

People who want to receive letters from Pendemic-Pals should call 0300 323 0965, or email or visit the Advocacy Focus web site where they can also talk to Advocacy Focus via live chat:

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