11 September 2020
8-year-old goes above and beyond to bring joy to care home residents
A selfless eight-year-old has dedicated her time in lockdown to putting a smile on the faces of local care home residents and staff.
Every day for the past five months, Jess Nolan has been visiting Anchor Hanover’s Oakwood Grange care home in Barnsley, delivering parcels of lovingly handmade friendship bracelets, puzzles, letters, flowers, treats and dream catchers, to brighten the days of residents and thank staff for their hard work during the pandemic.
Back in March, Jess’s mum Donna saw a Facebook post from Oakwood Grange, encouraging the public to send letters and artwork to residents, as part of Anchor Hanover’s #BeKindToOneAnother initiative. Living just around the corner from the care home, creative Jess was inspired to go a step further, making it her mission to cheer the residents up and deliver parcels to them on her scooter every day.
Jess’s touching and inventive gifts have boosted residents’ spirits at a particularly challenging time and brought staff to tears on several occasions. Some of their favourites include a ‘virtual hug’, made from two handprints tied together with a piece of string, and a ‘beach in a shoebox’ to give them a taste of holiday while they were working through lockdown.
Due to social distancing restrictions, Jess has been leaving the parcels at the entrance of the care home, and staff have been returning thank you notes and messages from residents by sticking them to the front door.
The manager of Oakwood Grange, Sheila Mitchell, has also bonded with Jess over a shared love of Enid Blyton books, and they’ve been swapping their copies of The Magic Faraway Tree and The Enchanted Wood.
Despite not being able to interact directly with the residents, Jess has visited every day, to remind them they haven’t been forgotten about and to show appreciation for the dedicated care workers. With school starting back up this month, she still hopes to continue her visits on the weekends.
To thank her for her kind-hearted gestures, Anchor Hanover plans to invite Jess to cut a ribbon to re-open the care home once restrictions lift and everyone can be welcomed in again.
Jess Nolan (age 8) says:
I’ve really enjoyed making things for the care home, every day to cheer the people up because they haven’t been seeing their families and that can make people sad. Even the staff will have to stay away from people too because they have to look after the people that live in the care home. I want to do what I can to help make people happy, and I love bringing them gifts.
Donna Harrison-Rhodes, Jess’s mother, says:
Jess has really enjoyed visiting the care home each day. She has thought up different things to make, written letters and decided to buy different things that will ‘cheer all the people up’. Jess is really looking forward to a time when she will be able to meet everyone in person, and she intends to visit as often as she can when she returns to school. We are so proud of her for trying to make people smile through a very difficult time.
Sheila Mitchell, Manager at Oakwood Grange care home, says:
How can a little girl have such a big heart. Jess has a beautiful smile that brightens up anyone’s day. Not only has she brought our residents gifts, puzzles, arts and crafts but she has also been a morale boost to the staff. Jess has been, and continues to be, an anchor keeping us grounded during a very rocky few months. Her actions and kindness have brought a tear to us all, we cannot thank her enough. Her mum should be very proud, as we are to know her.