Students from Hugh Baird College are hoping to tackle loneliness and isolation by launching a pen pal exchange service with residents across the Liverpool City Region. The initiative, which was devised by Health & Social Care students, who are studying for a career in the health or social services sector, are looking for those who want to take part, or those who wish to nominate a friend or relative who they feel would benefit from the service. Whilst it’s likely they will have requests from those living in a care/residential home setting, their ‘Pen Pals’ service is open to anyone of any age. Research has shown that there are 1.2 million chronically lonely and isolated older people in the UK and a study by the British Red Cross revealed over 9 million people in the UK across all adult ages – more than the population of London – are either always or often lonely. Tina Blease, Hugh Baird College Health & Social Care Tutor, said: Loneliness can quickly lead to feelings of isolation and even depression, particularly among older people and it’s an issue that does not get the attention that it deserves. Our caring students want to play their part in helping to alleviate this with their new letter exchange service and are welcoming those, of any age, who feel lonely or isolated, to register their interest. Vicky Edwards, Assistant Principal – Technical Skills at Hugh Baird College, said: The community is at the heart of everything we do here at Hugh Baird College and the student-led ‘Pen Pals’ initiative pays testament to that. I’m extremely proud of our students and the contribution they will make to the lives of those who are lonely or isolated. Cath Sullivan, Hugh Baird College, Vice Principal – People, Organisational Culture and Development added: The scheme has been scrutinised by colleagues with responsibility for safeguarding and it is important for us to reassure those who may be concerned about privacy issues, that the students will not know their pen pals’ full name or postal address and all correspondence will be via the College address and will be vetted, sent and received by staff at the College. Those looking to nominate a recipient for the Pen Pals service can visit http://bit.ly/hbcpenpals.