A kind-hearted eight-year-old has been praised for dedicating her time during lockdown to putting a smile on the faces of the residents and staff at her local care home.
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 and dream catchers.
Unsurprisingly, Jess’s touching gifts have boosted residents’ spirits at a particularly challenging time and have even brought staff to tears on several occasions.
“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,” Jess says.
“Even the staff 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.”
Back in March, Jess’s mum Donna Harrison-Rhodes spotted a Facebook post from the care home, encouraging the public to send letters and artwork to residents.
But living just around the corner from the care home, Jess was inspired to go a step further, making it her mission to cheer up the residents by delivering parcels to them on her scooter every day.
Some of the care home staff and residents’ favourite gestures include a “virtual hug”, made from two handprints tied together with a piece of string, and a “beach in a shoebox” to give staff a taste of a holiday while they work 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.
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 thank staff for their hard work during the pandemic.
“Jess has really enjoyed visiting the care home each day,” says Harrison-Rhodes.
“She has thought up different things to make, written letters and decided to buy different things that will ‘cheer all the people up’.”
To thank her for her kind-hearted gestures, Anchor Hanover plans to invite Jess to cut a ribbon to reopen the care home once restrictions lift and everyone can be welcomed in again.
Harrison-Rhodes says her daughter is really looking forward to a time when she will be able to meet the care home residents and staff in person, and that she intends to continue to visit as often as she can now she’s back at 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 the kindness Jess has shown has regularly reduced staff to tears.
“We cannot thank her enough,” she says. “How can a little girl have such a big heart? 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 mum should be very proud, as we are to know her.”