As part of its campaign, called #onemorecard, Close To Hand has provided almost 500 cards to pupils at Pembury Primary School and more than 300 for St Augustine’s in Tunbridge Wells.
Children from Skinners’ Kent Primary, the Village Kids Club and Play Place after-school club in Rusthall are also taking part.
Close to Hand’s founder, Lindsey Nathan, set it up last year to create ‘an online service to connect older independent people who live on their own to a home help service to give them flexibility to seek help as and when they need it’.
“It’s not about care, but companionship,” she said. “Our visitors go in and provide practical help, like shopping and small households tasks or some weeding in the garden, but also they offer company.”
The mother of two from Sevenoaks added: “It’s also a way of helping people who lead busy lives and might not be able to drop in to see their parents. There’s one lady whose mum has dementia and she can’t visit her one day a week.”
Lindsey worked in elderly care services for a decade, providing live-in care. She explains: “We were getting more and more enquiries from people who didn’t necessarily need advanced care, just someone to pop in and help when they wanted it.”
The organisation currently has more than 200 home helpers in the Kent and Sussex area.
Lindsey explained how #onemorecard was conceived. “I was going through some Age UK statistics and I read that there were 873,000 old people who weren’t contacted last Christmas.
“Then a friend of mine put a call out on social media asking people to send a 96-year-old veteran called Harry Winters some Christmas cheer – and he received 500 cards. He’s now helping us with our campaign.”
She added: “When we had all that snow earlier this year, it gave people a reason to reach out and knock on doors. What better way to do that than with your kids? Children are very perceptive about people who are lonely, and they can think of someone who needs some company more quickly than adults.
“The best way to push this out is through children – and it works well with schools dealing with topics like mental health and wellbeing. We’ve got lots of beavers, cubs and scouts involved, too.”
Now she wants mums and dads to send one extra card as well: “We mustn’t underestimate what a small act of kindness like that can do.”
For more information visit closetohand.co.uk