Over 50 letters and beaming faces

Pen and paper" initiative generates enthusiasm at Domizil am Leimbach retirement home in Sandhausen

"He's got a cheeky look on his face," a resident at Domizil am Leimbach is pleased to see a card featuring a small kangaroo. "I'll call him Fritz," she decides. The group then eagerly discusses whether the kangaroo is a girl or a boy. Either way, it stays with Fritz. Jennifer Rudek, the director of the senior citizens' home Domizil am Leimbach , has more than 50 lovingly crafted letters in a basket. Letters that are enthusiastically read, exchanged and read to the other person. And again and again the almost incredulous question: "May I really keep the letter"? Many of the people who live with us have no relatives and few other contacts," says Jennifer Rudek. Getting mail means a lot there. "Some often carry the letters around with them for days," she adds.

Nationwide "Pen and Paper" initiative launched in March 2020

At the start of the Corona pandemic, the "Pen and Paper" initiative was founded under the motto "Together against social loneliness. The idea: Young people write to their grandparents' generation. Within a few days, more than 10,000 people registered on the digital platform to write letters to residents of senior citizens' homes. Since then, the initiative has been mediating between the writers and the addressees. So far, there have been over 25,000 letter contacts in almost 200 facilities throughout Germany. In Sandhausen, caregiver Ulla Janik discovered the initiative and established contact with Domizil am Leimbach . "Corona has exacerbated the isolation and loneliness of many," she reports.

First contacts often develop into pen-pal friendships

The letters are more than just a distraction in everyday life. They provide plenty to talk about at Domizil am Leimbach . "It's great, of course, when an initial contact develops into a longer pen pal relationship," says Jennifer Rudek. Taking part in the life of another person and telling them about yourself - that gives new impetus. The senior citizens' residence operated by ASB Mannheim/Rhein-Neckar provides a total of 75 nursing apartments in small, familiar living areas. In addition, there are 33 residential units for assisted living, as well as the offer of short-term care for people who only need nursing and care for a temporary period. "The intensive care and individual support of each person is particularly important to us," says Jennifer Rudek. Joint activities such as baking and cooking are the focus. "That's why the Pen and Paper initiative fits in very well with us," she emphasizes, "because with the letters we've found another way to give the people who live with us joy and fun in their everyday lives."