SCHOOL children in Darlington have been posting letters of support to those shielding during the pandemic.

Pupils from Skerne Park Academy, Red Hall Primary School, Heighington Church of England Primary School and Mount Pleasant Primary School have written and drawn messages, cards and pictures of support to residents staying at home and shielding, which were then posted into a homemade box placed at McColl's on North Road.

The project, called Pass on a Smile, is organised by Darlington Support with help of Darlington Council's partnership programme officer Sarah Small.

St. Mary's Cockerton Primary School and the Federation of Abbey Schools will also be filling up the post box in coming days.

After the letters and cards are quarantined for a period of time before distribution, volunteers from the group include one in each of delivery.

Lisa Walker, deputy area coordinator and a volunteer who is assisting the initiative, said: "I've seen first-hand the effect the children's cheerful artwork and cards are having on those stuck at home - big smiles as well as some happy tears.

"Would also like to say a big thank you to Joanne Hall, a local resident who kindly constructed and decorated the postbox to enable the children to post the letters at McColl’s, but most of all thank you to the children who will never realise the positive effect their creations are having on people.”

Simon Howard, who leads a team of volunteers for Darlington Support in the North Road area, said the letter have brought smiles to residents and volunteers alike.

He said: “For some of the residents that we help each day throughout Darlington, who have been shielding with very little interaction with the outside world for over 14 weeks now, letters and pictures done by children have brought a smile and happiness in these unusual times - not only with residents who have received them, but with the volunteers delivering them.”

Ms Small, who liaised with the schools to arrange their participation in the project, added: “It has been an amazing opportunity for the town’s children to get involved in sharing a much needed message whether it be a letter, a picture or a postcard to residents who have been in isolation for a number of weeks. I am thrilled with the response and the variety of imaginative artwork to distribute. I am sure each and every piece will make residents smile.”

For Darlington schools looking to take part, email with the subject line 'Letters to Shielders'.