A kind-hearted schoolgirl is helping to tackle loneliness during the Christmas period – by offering to visit her elderly neighbours.
Selfless Lana Rowntree, seven, wrote a letter to her local paper asking if any pensioners would like to “be her friend”.
She has been inundated with ‘friend’ requests and is already learning how to knit thanks to one grateful lady called Sonia.
The youngster decided to offer her services after learning many elderly people do not receive regular visitors and were often alone over the festive period.
Lana sent a handwritten letter, decorated with a drawing of her whole family, to the North Somerset Times, asking if there were any pensioners who would like a visit.
Christopher, Lana’s proud dad, said: “Lana asked why there were so many lonely people and we had a discussion about it.
“She said she really wanted to help and we encouraged her to write a letter. She spent ages and put so much effort into trying to make sure she wrote it well.
“We just think the story we heard [on the news recently] was quite powerful. They interviewed some people who had not had a visitor for six months, which is really sad.”
Lana’s incredible effort comes as figures are released by Age UK reveal that 450,000 older people will be spending Christmas alone this year.
The survey, featured in specialist over 50s publication Mature Times which highlighted Lana’s sterling efforts, said a quarter were “not looking forward” to the festive period, with memories of loved ones who were no longer with them being too painful.
Lana, who lives with her parents and her younger sister, has two grandparents but only sees them a few times a year as they live so far away.
In her letter the schoolgirl wrote: “I am seven years old and I have a sister and she is four years old.
“I am very lucky that I have such a fantastic family.
“I have heard that there are lots of old people who are very, very terribly lonely, which makes me very, very upset.
“Would any old people like to be me and my family’s friend because my dad’s mum and dad are dead and my mum’s mum and dad live very far away?”
The family said they have had an overwhelming response since the letter was published and they are now visiting one elderly woman on a regular basis.
Christopher, from Tickenham, North Somerset, said: “Lana has been absolutely delighted with the way her idea has taken off.
“Not only has she had calls to take up her offer of company but loads of people have called to praise what she is doing too.
“She is currently visiting an elderly lady called Sonia, who she sees a couple of times a week.
“We all went together at first but it has worked out so nicely for Lana. At the moment Sonia is teaching her to knit and they do lots of art and craft activities together.
“It is really nice for the both of them.”
Little Lana said that she was delighted with how well her project had taken off and said she would be carrying on with her “friendship services”.