A DETERMINED charity is re-appealing for help to brighten up older people’s lives during lockdown.

Give a Dog a Bone is asking schoolchildren to write letters which will be passed on to the 550 older people they support.

During the first lockdown, letters were distributed to people experiencing loneliness to help brighten their days.

The initiative was set up after the charity’s community spaces were closed down due to the pandemic.

Despite being based in Clarkston, the charity have three community spaces across the country – one in Shawlands, another in Troon and a third in Alloa.

When starting up seven years ago, the main aim was to tackle loneliness and social isolation for older adults by supporting them financially to adopt a rescued pet.

Louise Russell, the charity’s founder, said: “If someone wanted to adopt a dog but the finances were a barrier, they could apply to us for financial support. This could be for a rehoming fee, or monthly support – which would go towards feeding their animal.

“Three years ago, we started our community space project.

“Pre-Covid we would have lots of free activities for the over 60s to encourage them to leave their homes and get back out meeting people. It’s a safe space for older adults to make new friends, learn new skills and mix with dogs.

“We’ve got a team of companionship dogs who go up to people to get pats.

“There are lots of older adults who love animals, but they don’t want one for lots of different reasons so they can come down and spend time with ours.”

But everything the charity stood for came to an end when the community spaces were shut down. A plan to support the older adults who attended was put in place. As part of that, Louise and her team appealed to youngsters to write to someone who was experiencing loneliness.

Some of the letters already sent in

Some of the letters already sent in

And months on, with the country still in lockdown, more letters are needed.

Louise, 46, added: “The letters are what really blew the socks off people because they weren’t expecting it, and it was a wee bit of joy through their door.

“We’re really keen to reintroduce that.

“We’ve got 550 older adults that we want to send a letter to. It’s not a pen pal relationship, it’s a one-off cheery letter and we will distribute them out.”

Sandy Smith, an 83-year-old man who attends the Troon community space when he can, is just one person who has already received a letter.

He said: “I can sing the charity’s praises and shout it from the roof tops. A lovely letter that I got was from Ellie, and Ellie said to me that she wanted to bring some sunshine into my isolation days because I live on my own.

“My darling wife is in care, so it’s just wonderful to get some lovely support.

“Ellie was telling me about what she likes, like going roller skating and going walks in the forest.

“It was just heart-warming because she drew a rainbow and a heart as well as a lovely star. Things that just brighten up a day. The Give a Dog a Bone team are so friendly and have been in contact with me since last March through weekly telephone calls, and even sent me a birthday card.

“The charity is empathetic towards the conditions that older people are living in. Some, perhaps not as fortunate as myself, because I count my blessings for what I have every day.”

Primary or secondary school children who would like to send a letter should not include their address or surname. Letters should start with “Give a Dog a Bone asked me to write you a letter...”, and then sent to Give a Dog a Bone, 121 Eastwoodmains Road, Clarkston, G76 7HD.