Northern Ireland

North Belfast care home where residents get postcards from across the world

Postcards received by the home
Image caption Lansdowne Care Home gets postcards from as far away as Cyprus, Taiwan and Australia

The cake stands are laden with buns and scones, and surrounded by pretty floral teacups and pink serviettes.

The ladies of Lansdowne Care Home in north Belfast have gathered for their weekly catch-up with their new friends - none of whom they've ever met in person.

"I came across Postcards of Kindness on Facebook," says activities therapist Josh Starkey.

"They send them to older people in the community, so I signed up and since then, we've been receiving cards and sending cards back.

"Residents who could be lonely, they look forward to receiving the cards."

The home has postcards from as far afield as Cyprus, Taiwan and Australia, much further than resident Margaret has ever travelled.

"That's true enough, I was up in Dublin and Newcastle and all, but that's about as far as I got."

Image caption Margaret loves receiving cards from places she never got to visit

Now, every week, she and her friends are getting postcards from near and far.

Postcards from places like Blackpool bring back memories for residents like Betty, who are touched by the kindness of the strangers.

"Maybe they've never lived here or sometimes they have lived here, and it's lovely to receive from so far away, to think that people are bothered to write. It's lovely."

"It's not just for people in care homes," said Josh.

"It can be people in the community with nobody - you can give their details and they can receive cards.

"Because I'm sure it's lonely on Christmas or your birthday, and you don't get a card. So hopefully it'll make a difference to someone."

Pen pals

As well as receiving cards, the residents have made a difference to one woman in particular who wrote to them.

Nelly grew up in Ireland and wrote about how much she missed her home country.

Some of the residents have now formed a pen-pal friendship with her and write to her regularly.

The home has only been signed up to the scheme for a few months, but the postcards are rolling in.

Image caption Hundreds of postcards have come rolling in since the home signed up to the scheme

"We've got hundreds already," says Josh.

"It's really nice to get to know people from all over the world. And then if someone's feeling down, we would take the box round into the room and they can sit and read through all different cards.

"Every week, I would go round for the people who are bedbound in their rooms, I'd go and read cards to them and it does cheer them up a wee bit."

Sadie isn't bedbound but the postcards brighten her day too.

"Lovely postcards, so they are, beautiful.

"Thank you to everybody that sent us them - thank you very much."