1st May 2020 

McCarthy & Stone, the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder, together with the children’s reading charity, Coram Beanstalk, are working to connect retirement communities and school children through a new pen pal initiative called ‘Send a Smile’.

With so many people cut off from daily life and loved ones, the lockdown is affecting everyone, young and old, with children being away from school, friends and structured learning. The ‘Send a Smile' project aims to bring people together through writing letters, encouraging pen pals to capture their thoughts in words and bring generations together to share their experiences during this time of isolation.

Miruna Constantinescu, National Marketing Director at McCarthy & Stone, said:

“In these challenging times, our residents must stay in their apartments while self-isolating, as they adhere to the Government’s strict social-distancing rules. Meanwhile schools are closed with children having to be home-schooled by their parents. This means children are denied their usual routine while residents are missing time spent with friends and family. In response to this, our Send A Smile initiative aims to keep our communities connected and bring some happiness to our residents during this difficult time. We are asking children of all ages to send letters, stories, poems and pictures to our residents – to lift their spirits and bring a smile to their faces.

“By connecting McCarthy & Stone residents with children around the UK, we hope the campaign will also reignite the lost art of letter (or email) writing and bring the generations together to share their experiences during this time of isolation.”

In 2019 McCarthy & Stone raised an incredible £220,000 for Coram Beanstalk through a year-long charity partnership. In light of the circumstances brought around by the lockdown, both organisations are continuing to work together to help prevent isolation and loneliness during this difficult time, while encouraging children to keep reading and writing at home.

Ginny Lunn, Managing Director at Coram Beanstalk, said:

“The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted everyone in many ways and changed our way of life dramatically. On March 20th educational settings across England shut their doors for an unknown period of time. We know that 1 in 4 children leave school unable to read well. The effects of COVID-19 will push many more children back even further: we cannot allow even greater disparities in children’s reading confidence and skills to emerge. We’re proud to be working with our partner, McCarthy & Stone, on this exciting initiative which finds an innovative and fun way to support children. Send a Smile will help to improve children’s reading skills whilst also connecting communities during this uncertain time. I’d like to thank McCarthy & Stone for your unwavering commitment to Coram Beanstalk and the UK’s children.”

How Send a Smile works

Children who would like to become a pen pal can do so through their parent or guardian applying on their behalf:

The parent or guardian will then be paired with a McCarthy & Stone homeowner. It’s free (unless they opt for a postal only pen pal). Writers are encouraged to share positive experiences; from how home schooling is working, to what everyone is doing to keep themselves occupied.

To find out more about the partnership between Coram Beanstalk and McCarthy & Stone, visit our news story